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'It's very difficult'

Defending PGA Champion Y.E. Yang got his first look at Whistling Straits during the PGA Championship Media Day event on June 7. His impression after playing Pete Dye's acclaimed creation along the shores of Lake Michigan? 'It's daunting ... very difficult.' Below is the news conference transcript.

2010 PGA Championship

Y.E. Yang (right) addresses the media after winning the Wanamaker Trophy at Hazeltine last August. (Getty Images)

 

JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, everyone, I'm Julius Mason, Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations for the PGA of America.

Welcome to the 92nd PGA Championship Media Day, which is also being streamed live on PGA.com.

Before we kick things off, please sit back, relax and enjoy the history and tradition that is the season's final Major -- glory's last shot -- the PGA Championship.

(Video played.)

JULIUS MASON: Right around the corner, ladies and gentlemen. Now I'd like to recognize a few guests in our audience and our very own PGA members who make golf a better game.

From the Wisconsin PGA Section, President, Ike Bailey.
From Butler National Golf Club, District Director, Bruce Patterson.
Right here from Whistling Straits, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Kohler Company, David Kohler. Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of Kohler Company, Natalie Black Kohler. And several members of the 2010 PGA Championship Executive Committee. From the PGA of America, the Chief Executive Officer and PGA Honorary Member, Mr. Joe Steranka. Senior Director of Championships, Mr. David Charles. And from your backyard, the 92nd PGA Championship Director, Barry Deach.

And now, let's hear from the Chairman and CEO of Kohler Company, somebody you may not know, Mr. Herbert Kohler, Junior.

MR. HERBERT KOHLER, JR.: Thank you, Julius. My word, good to see you again. We are honored to host this PGA Championship. The very best players in the field, including a robust international lineup, the quality and impact of this tournament management is a testament to the PGA of America, to the Kohler team, to the media, and to the state of Wisconsin.
As a result, we have the privilege of hosting this great Major in 2004 and 2010 and in 2015.
The 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits will once again draw a worldwide audience with millions of eyes focused on the state of Wisconsin. On Sheboygan County and on Kohler Golf.

CBS and TNT will broadcast 28 hours of high definition championship coverage to 194 countries and territories, reaching more than 667 million households -- showcasing the raw beauty and challenge of Whistling Straits. Soak it in, those are some staggering numbers.
As you saw this morning, Whistling Straits is ready for this Major. The course is in excellent condition, the grounds crew has cared for each hole meticulously, and mostly, I might add, mostly in the dark morning, so the player never sees them.

It's all in preparation for our normal play, but particularly for this championship.
If I had written a script for the 2004 PGA Championship I could not have created the color and drama of the actual event.

To a person, amongst players and spectators, the 446 million households around the world who watched on television were blown away by what they experienced.
In recalling this 2004 PGA Vijay Singh's final round 4-over par 76 was the third highest final round by a Major Championship winner. And good, barely good, for a 72-hole total of 8-under par, 280.

It was a thrilling conclusion to a historic championship -- with Chris DiMarco, Justin Leonard, and Vijay Singh competing in a three hole playoff using the 10th, the 17th, and the 18th holes.
To win this playoff Vijay let loose with an enormous drive to the front of the green on the 10th. Take a look at it.

Take a look at just what he accomplished. The strategy of it and the actual execution.
He then chipped it, chipped to the pin within 10 feet without crossing the bunker. Unlike the others who couldn't match his power or his strategy.

Vijay then sank the putt for the only birdie of the playoff. It was a thrilling climax.
But then to last year's will champion, Y E Yang, my congratulations on being the first Asian-born golfer to win a PGA Championship and capture the Wanamaker.

Y E, your Sunday performance pitting you against golf's fiercest competitor was also one for the history books. It was the rarest of feats, to best the world's best that final day.

I happened to be standing immediately in back of the left lobe of the 18th green, about 30 feet from the pin that day. When I saw this ball sail from the back of the tree, that 80 foot tree, then over the tree, and bounce within 10 feet of the pin, and then abruptly come to a stop, I thought for a moment that only Tiger could have made a shot like that and then I realized, damn, Y E.

How astounding amidst all that pressure our Korean friend could collect himself once again and make a shot like that. that's what you find in a PGA Championship, the course is played out and the way it's managed, you really can't beat it.

I would like to add for the first time ever at a PGA Championship up to four juniors, young people, will receive complimentary admission with each ticketed adult. I give the PGA of America a lot of credit for this offering as a means of introducing our young people to the values and excitement of this game of golf. I know my grandchildren will be there and I hope yours will also. At least some of them.

Thank you very much.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Mr. Kohler. 10 points for your play-by-play of Y E's 18th hole there. I didn't know you had it in you. Very good.

And now ladies and gentlemen let's hear from one of our key partners who is responsible for the video you saw a little earlier and for bringing the PGA Championship to households around the world, ladies and gentlemen, from New York City, the Executive Vice President of Programming for CBS Sports, Rob Correa.

ROB CORREA: Thank you, Julius, thank you. I would like to thank Jim Remy and his fellow PGA officers, along with Joe Steranka and his terrific staff, it's been a long relationship and believe me, we could not have done it without Joe and Julius and Kevin Carter, Casey Morton, Kathy Jordan, among others. It's really been a, it's been a 20 year relationship.

This will be our 20th PGA at CBS. We have seen a lot, as we witnessed in the video, since 1991. I would also like to talk about our relationship with Turner, which has really been, I think been beneficial for us, Turner, and the PGA of America.

Our schedule will be highlight shows Thursday and Friday nights at 12:37 a.m. and then live weekend coverage at 2 p.m. conclusion, likely 7 p.m. eastern on Saturday and Sunday. year over 35 million people watched all or part of CBS's weekend telecast, which was our highest number of viewers since 2002.

Our Sunday rating was our fifth highest since 1991 and the highest in six out of the last seven years. So it never fails to disappoint.

Our production team will be headed by Darrell Bryant, our Vice President of Production, who is in the second row; and Lance Barrow will be our Coordinating Producer; Steve Milton is our Coordinating Director and our all-star cast of talent will be obviously highlighted by headlined by Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo on 18; and also includes Peter Ooesterhuis, Ian Baker Finch, Gary McCord, Verne Lundquist, Peter Kostis and David Feherty.

So we can only hope that we'll be as fortunate in a couple of months as we were the last time we were here. So I think I can speak for everybody at CBS and we are really, really looking forward to the PGA Championship. Thank you.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks very much, Rob.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Atlanta Georgia, our television and digital media partner from Turner Sports, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Matt Hong.

MATT HONG: Thank you, Julius. On behalf of all my colleagues at Turner Broadcasting and Turner Sports we're very happy to be here as well. Turner Sports is looking forward to providing golf fans numerous options for accessing live golf throughout the four days of the 92nd PGA Championship.

And for the championship to return here to spectacular Whistling Straits will only make this year's version of Glory's Final Shot all that much more special.

We're excited to return, this is our 20th year as well, the PGA Championship. The 12th year that the event will air on TNT.

And in addition it that we're excited to continue our partnership with the PGA of America in running PGA.com, which is the official web site of the PGA.

This year our incredibly talented announcer and on-air TNT team will again feature Ernie Johnson, Ian Baker Finch serving as analyst, Billy Kratzert as analyst and course reporter, and Jim Huber, who is here today, who will provide essays and interviews with the tournament participants.

We'll have 18 hours of coverage on TNT, full days of coverage on Thursday and Friday, and early hours of coverage on Saturday and Sunday.

And in years past, as in years past, we look forward to partnering with CBS to cover the championship, both in terms of production and in talent and partnering to bring the telecast to life.

In addition, as I noted earlier, to TNT, we also operate PGA.com. And this will be our ninth year covering the championship with the PGA of America on PGA.com. And our second year covering it via mobile and wireless applications.

So in conclusion, I just want to reiterate how excited we at Turner Sports are to be partnering with the PGA of America, CBS to bring the telecast on TNT, to bring live video on PGA.com and also to provide coverage on our wireless applications.
Thank you.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks very much, Matt. And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Ludlow, Vermont, the 36th President of the PGA of America, Jim Remy.

JIM REMY: Thank you, Julius. And first let me just thank everyone for being here today and welcome. This is an exciting event and it's an exciting day here for everyone. know, I'm fortunate and honored and privileged to be the President of the PGA of America for the last, what will be two years by the end of this year. And I get to go to work every day -- I have the greatest job in the world -- I get to go to work every day and represent 28,000 men and women who go to work every single day in the golf industry all over this country and they teach the game and they play the game and they run the business of golf. And it is a privilege and an honor for me to sit here in front of you at the 92nd PGA Championship Media Day and address you. So thank you for that.

It's going to be an exciting time. Back two years ago when I became president as I looked forward to my presidency and I knew that I would be at Whistling Straits, with the wonderful Kohler family and all of our great friends here at Whistling Straits, as well as CBS and Turner, our partners, I knew that it was going to be special. And in just two months the 92nd PGA Championship will begin and will take place right here at Whistling Straits.

Conducting the PGA Championship again at Whistling continues a PGA tradition of really matching the nation's greatest courses with the world's greatest players.

And we're very proud of that.

And since 1994, the PGA Championship has hosted the deepest field based on the official World Golf Rankings in all of Major golf. With the highest number of official World Rankings members. You may recall that in 2004 Whistling Straits hosted a world golf Ranking record field featuring 95 of the top 100 players in the world in 2004.

And last year, at Hazeltine National Golf Club, the field featured 97 of the top 100 world ranked players and a championship record 69 players representing over 22 countries, the most of any U.S. Major, the strongest field in Major golf.

You know, the PGA Championship is the only championship, only Major Championship that features an all-professional field.

And this year more than 3,000 club professionals of the PGA of America's finest playing club professionals tried to qualify to be here to represent the PGA of America in that field. And there will be 20 club professionals who will be chosen at French Lick, in our Professional National Championship later this month will come here and represent the 28,000 members of the PGA of America and to also be part of, like I said, the only field in golf which is all professional Major Championship.

The excitement of the PGA Championship really commands a global audience. In addition to the millions of U.S. viewers who will watch more than 28 hours of high definition coverage, of viewers in more than 194 countries and territories with a household reach of more than 667 million will also watch the season's final Major Championship.

The PGA Championship really has been fortunate each year to produce special signature moments from the champions who have captured the Wanamaker Trophy. Those images are forever, really, forever be etched in our minds and serve as a wonderful memory for the golf fans throughout the world.
Our defending champion took control last year in the final round at Hazeltine National Golf Club. The PGA Championship was his first Major, and as Herb referred to earlier, he made our champion the first male player from Asia to capture one of the world's four Majors.

If you were watching last year, you will recall his charge down the stretch at Hazeltine, by the way, at the time the longest golf course in Major Championship history. And of those of you who might have some difficulty remembering some of those details, if you just look here at the video, we have some reminders of that great day.

(Video played.)

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the PGA of America, partners, and certainly our friends here at Whistling Straits, is my pleasure to welcome our defending PGA champion, Y E Yang.

JULIUS MASON: Well, as I wipe a tear from my eye after watching that video, I'm going to let everybody know that joining Y E today is his manager from IMG, Ryan Park, who will serve as our interpreter for the day.

So Ryan, let me just go ahead and put it out there, why don't we ask Y E what his thoughts were as he watches that and then maybe take us back to what the last year's been like.

Y E YANG: First of all I want to thank everybody over here for coming over on such, I don't know if it's such short notice, but thank you for coming.
It's like watching a very good film, a very good movie right now. I didn't want to embarrass myself, so, in front of all these people, so I've been, I'm trying hard right now to hold back some tears, but even though it's been nearly a year now, since I won the PGA Championship in 2009, it feels like a dream still.

And it's like, as I said, watching a nice piece of movie.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, we'll go to questions and answers now.

Q. Y E, thank you very much for coming today and is this the first time you've played Whistling Straits?

Y E YANG: Yes.

Q. And since it is, could you sum up your initial reaction?

Y E YANG: I don't know if you played before, but you can't see the fairways over here, it seems like it's just fescue everywhere. You can't really locate the fairways. So it's daunting, difficult, not -- and even though you go on the fairway, not that wide. So it's a difficult course.
Q. One last thing, I saw you hitting balls off the 17th tee there, out to the rock and in Lake Michigan. Were you able to hit the rock?

Y E YANG: You know, actually, I hit with my partner, Jim Remy's clubs, so I think he needs a bit of tweaking on the clubs. If I used mine I would definitely hit it.

Q. What was the reaction in South Korea to you winning the PGA Championship?
Y E YANG: I wasn't there when I won it, so I can't tell you about the actual immediate reaction afterward, but I just felt that there's a huge difference between a win and a Major win. I've won in my career a few times in Japan and in European also in the Honda classic on the PGA TOUR, but I've never had that kind of reception before as I did after my first visit after my PGA win.
I was, I entered the arrival area holding the Wanamaker Trophy replica that I have, and there were a lot more people than there were right now waiting for me. And they were all reporters, the way. So -- and by the way it was about four or five a.m. the morning, so just by that reaction I knew that there was something, that that was something big.

Q. Mr. Kohler, if I may, I remember being out here as a fan in 2004, sitting on hole No. 12, on Sunday, and you came around and the crowd noticed that you were there, kind of just standing in the background and they began to chant, "Thank you, Herb." I wonder, do you recall that and certainly either way how important it is for you to be able to bring this gift to Wisconsin.

MR. HERB KOHLER, JR.: Well, I clearly remember it and you just put a lump in my throat. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to give people something like this and to see the outpouring of support. It's really quite remarkable. And I also want to say it's time for another Korean on this course. The first Major at Kohler, if you recall, was won by a Korean. Se Ri Pak, in the, in the 1998 U.S. Women's Open. It's high time we have another Korean.

Q. How familiar are you with links style golf courses like Whistling Straits is and do you anticipate having to play a couple more practice rounds between now and the actual week of the championship?

Y E YANG: I wish I could, but my schedule is a bit tight, so I think it's good for me to put in some practice today. I think it was good time spent. As you might all know, it's really hard to find links style golf courses in the U.S., so this is one of the most unique courses in America. And I'm definitely not used to it, but I have played a few links courses in my, throughout my career in Scotland and for the Open as well. And fortunately for me I'm going over to Scotland for two weeks and so that will probably be good preparation for me coming up towards the Major championship.

Q. During the first video you saw the past winners and the history of this championship, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Hogan, your name is on that trophy with them. Can you begin to describe what that feels like to be part of that history forever now?

Y E YANG: You know, as I told you, when I see clips of my win for the PGA Championship it feels like I'm looking at somebody else's video. It doesn't really feel like I did that. It's like a murky dream to me. For you to ask me that question that I am one -- that my name is on that trophy with so many legendary names, it feels like it's somebody else's name on that, it doesn't really feel real.

But once in a while when somebody like you asks me that question or mentions that, it sort of hammers into me that I did really actually accomplish such a feat. It's a very good feeling, but then in due time it goes away again and it feels like it was just a nice mid summer's dream.

Q. Did you keep score today and what did you shoot?
Y E YANG: First hole bogey. Second hole double bogey. After a couple more bogeys. The first nine holes is 5-over and after the back nine, hole birdie, 11 birdie. But after, again, two more bogeys, and today I shoot 5-over. Just today a little bit need for practice, it's very hard. The greens, the bunkers, the rough, everything is difficult.

After maybe next PGA Championship week I'll come early, a little bit more practice that I need here.

JULIUS MASON: You're making Herb blush with those comments, Y E. Question over here, please.

Q. Y E, Tiger Woods' reputation not only as a great player, as a great intimidator on Sunday is well known. Could you talk about the mental approach that you took on that final round last year and also were there any moments that sort of put you over the top in terms of competing against somebody like Tiger and out lasting him?

Y E YANG: I think the previous experience was back in 2006 during the HSBC Champions. I was paired up with, on Sunday, the then leader, Retief Goosen, who was probably ranked about sixth in the world at that time, he was leading by one stroke.

And Tiger was probably a group behind or a group ahead of us. And I think that eventually Tiger -- I won that tournament, Tiger came in second, behind two strokes. That sort of built a lot of confidence and taught me -- I was back then about World Ranking around 80th in the world, so that experience taught me how to handle high pressure situations like that.
But it really didn't prepare me for that Sunday at Hazeltine because Tiger was in the lead, he had a two stroke advantage, he had that winning record, 14 for 14, was it? And I just thought that it's a good day to have a nice outing with Tiger Woods. People pay a lot of money to do that. And playing for free.

I was a bit nervous at first, but when I went up to the tee I thought, hey, I'm never going to win this, just don't embarrass myself and just try and play my game. And as the holes went by it felt like I was less and less nervous and I actually gained a lot of confidence as each hole went by. We were all making a few putts. And it seemed like there was some nervous vibe coming out from Tiger, actually, and everything else is, as they say, that's history.

Q. Looking back at that final round what do you consider the more important shot, the chip in on 14 or the three hybrid on 18 and why?

Y E YANG: What do you think?
It's really hard to rate what precedes the other, because they were both very important shots on that day. But if you do insist, I would have to go with the 14th chip in for eagle, that gave me the lead. But then again, if I squandered
the shot on 18, then it could have, you could be in front of somebody else right now.

Q. Last year or last time in this event when Shaun Micheel was the defending champions I believe he shot 77 as well and made the comment that he shot even par, if par was 77. And Bobby Clampett made the statement that the winning score might be double digits over par, and maybe much to Mr. Kohler's dismay, it turned out to be well under par, but how long does it take you to go from coming out here, shooting 77, to becoming familiar and comfortable with the course where you can shoot in the 60s?

Y E YANG: It's easy, hit the fairways, hit the green, put in your putts. But the difficult part is this golf course doesn't allow that. So you have to play a bit conservative over here, you can't be aggressive. But at the same time you have to have a balance between your game and being conservative, playing your game and being conservative. And that's where it's really difficult for everybody, everything in life, it's trying to find the right balance.

Q.    Mr. Kohler, first thanks for having us out today and of course to the PGA as well. Mr. Kohler, back in 2004 I think it was an eye opening experience for all of us, whether it was a fan, or the players. What is something that you saw in that championship, whether it's from a fan standpoint or a feedback from the players that you thought had to change going into 2010? Are we going to see from the fans to the players, are we going to see a significant change out here at all?

MR. HERB KOHLER, JR.: Oh, mercy. I think you'll find more change from two other aspects. One is the course change, on 18. And the second change you're going to see it's going to be much more subtle, but it's how the director of tournaments, Kerry Haigh, manages the tees and the pins. His level of confidence in managing this course, if you will, has improved dramatically. You saw that literally over a four day period. Reflected accurately, I think, in the scores.
He's going to approach this tournament with more confidence than he did that first day back in 2004. you're going to see a different result. I can't predict exactly what that will be, but it will be, it's based on a learning experience. And I think that those are two significant, are our two most significant changes since that time. I think this 18th fairway is going to, providing where he places the pin, or pardon me, the tee, could be provide some fairly dramatic excitement on that last day.

Q. Just a follow-up on that. Do you think like Shaun Micheel when he was saying par was 77, do you think all that buzz and all that talk when people saw this place the first time led into the first two days of how it was setup?
MR. HERB KOHLER, JR.: Yes, there's no question about that. That and the prediction that there was going to be some bad weather coming in, higher winds than they actually, than actually that there were. So Kerry set the course very conservatively that first day and to some extent the second day. But then he understood how it was playing and what they could do, it didn't live up to all the horror stories that were coming out a month before. When some of the players came through and couldn't find their landing areas and whatnot. It was just one story after the other. But players sometimes tend to do that to frighten the person who is setting the pins and the tees of the?

Q. For Mr. Kohler, you kind of touched on it a little bit what I was going to ask you about in 2004 the wind really didn't blow a whole lot it was kind of benign, actually, and today we were kind of fortunate it didn't blow. Can you talk about how much more difficult this course can be with the wind and how much of a difference it would be?

MR. HERB KOHLER, JR.: Oh, it's probably seven strokes, even 10, on a day when it's swirling and 25 miles an hour. out here we'll have a change in winds up to four times a day. Which creates an experience that obviously is not predictable and not terribly controllable.

JULIUS MASON: Y E got lucky today.

Q. Mr. Kohler, can you talk a little bit more about what prompted you guys to make alterations on 18? Did you think it needed a boost, do you think it's a better hole now?

MR. HERB KOHLER, JR.: A number of the players were discretely saying to me and to a few of my associates that they hope we would make some kind of change, because they felt it would, that it was appropriate on the last hole of this course to really be able to use your driver. And a number of them were not able to, either using 3-woods just to hold short of the bunker before going into the creek. So we talked about it with Pete and he came up with a modification that was made. And it was interesting because the, is now that left leg on the 18th was actually the original fairway when this course was set up to begin with. And then he changed to a right side fairway, a different approach into that pin. But what he's done now with the combination is enable someone who may be a stroke down to really try and let it out and take the chance. Now you're taking a lot of chance if you explored that area. It's narrow, it's very narrow. You're either in the woods or in the creek or you're short. Chances are you won't run out through the fairway, even with the down slope. But the narrowness and the length required on the fly is significant.

Q. For Mr. Kohler, you mentioned earlier that you couldn't have written a better script for the 2004 championship. What script would you write for the 2010 championship?

MR. HERB KOHLER, JR.: I want Y E to drive the 18th. On the left-hand side. Take a sand wedge and hit it like a dart, put it within a couple feet of that pin and win the championship. Mind you, if he were forced into a playoff, that's not the worst thing in the world. That does improve -- any playoff, any playoff, improves your TV ratings quite significantly. But would I like to see him produce the drama he did last year? Absolutely. It was extraordinary. To watch his mental emotional control. And he's, I can't say taken courses, he's studied control of the human emotion and in high pressure situations. And I've never witnessed anyone so expert at it as that man here. I watched it in a number of situations, because it is so important in sport generally and particularly in golf. The ability to have a grip on your emotional makeup in the highest pressure situation you can imagine. So he's my champion. He, it was a magnificent display of what one has to do in the circumstance like that.

JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, your defending PGA Champion Y E Yang. Y E, thanks for being here.

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the news conference. Thank you very much for joining us.