‘Forgotten man’ Yang aims for comeback at ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open

Tue 27 Feb 2018

‘Forgotten man’ Yang aims for comeback at ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open


Queenstown, New Zealand, February 27: Korea’s Y.E. Yang, who once defied all odds to become the first Asian male golfer to win a Major in 2009, is looking to resurrect his career with a strong performance at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open which starts on Thursday.

Yang, an Asian Tour honorary member, has not reached the dizzy heights of 2009 where he defeat former world number one Tiger Woods to lift the PGA Championship.

The 46-year-old enjoyed a career high of 19th place on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) in 2010 but has not returned to the winner’s circle since that year where he won twice in China and Korea.

Yang missed the weekend cut in his maiden appearance at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open last year and is hoping for a better showing at one of New Zealand’s leading sporting events this week.

Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat is eager to notch his second Asian Tour win following his breakthrough in Indonesia last year. The stocky Thai, nicknamed ‘Coconut’ by his parents, believes he has the game to contend at the highest level, having started his early 2018 season with two top-25 finishes in Singapore and Malaysia.

American Berry Henson is also optimistic of his chances at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, having shown his impressive comeback from injury with three top-10s in four starts on the Asian Tour this year.

Henson, who took on a part-time job as an Uber driver during his rehabilitation period, will be seeking his first win since 2011 when he lifted his maiden title in the Philippines. 

Did you know?

  • Yang remains the only male Asian to have won a Major when he overcame a two-shot deficit going into the final round of the PGA Championship to eventually finish three shots ahead of Tiger Woods, his playing partner.
  • Ranked as high as 19th on the OWGR in 2010, Yang will be starting the week in 803rd place on the world rankings.
  • Yang’s best result in 2017 was a tied-sixth finish at the Volvo China Open- an event which the Asian Tour will be returning as one of the sanctioning partners next month.
  • Panuphol turned professional in 2007, at a young age of 14. He started plying his trade on the Asian Tour in 2009 and has not missed out on his playing rights since 2011.
  • He has never finished outside the top-60 on the Habitat for Humanity Standings for the last seven year and ended his 2017 Asian Tour season in 20th place on standings.
  • He also won his first Asian Tour title at the Indonesia Open last year.
  • Berry Henson returned to competitive golf last December after being sidelined by a wrist injury for 18 months.
  • Henson made his comeback by finishing strongly with a string of impressive results in Singapore (T8), Myanmar (Fourth) and Malaysia (10).
  • The American made about 1,500 Uber trips during his rehabilitation period for charity and to also earn some side income.

Players’ Quotes:

Y.E. Yang (Kor)

This will be my second time competing at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open and I’m looking forward to doing well. Queenstown is a very beautiful place and this is a very good golf course especially when the sun’s out. I’ve been playing mostly in Japan last year and have been playing in a couple of events on the PGA Tour too. But I’m focusing more on Japan now and playing on a couple of the Asian Tour too. It has been a long time since I won that Major at the PGA Championship and it really brings back beautiful memories for me. This is golf and hopefully, I can enjoy another good victory again.

Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha)

I’ve known New Zealand to be a very beautiful country and that’s what brings me here. It’s a long way to New Delhi after this week but I’m not complaining. We travel round the world as professional golfers and being here now just makes you feel so happy. My game has been great since my win in Indonesia last year. I feel very confident each time I tee up for a tournament and this week is no different. I’m very happy the Asian Tour is back in New Zealand as a full co-sanctioning partner as it gives us players more opportunities to travel round the world and play golf, which is something I always enjoy. I’ve played on similar golf courses like this before and hopefully they will provide me with the experience to do well this week.

Berry Henson (Usa)

I made 1,500 Uber rides in the year as I needed to kill some time because all I was doing was going to the gym and rehab. I had to keep my mind occupied. But I did enjoy driving Uber for charity and it also paid for my car rental expenses. There were so many moments when I didn’t think I could play golf again. I was looking at other options. I thought I had to do something else. It was depressing but I needed time for my body to heal. It was hard for me to stay patient. It took a long time and I slowly kept recovering and healing. Once I started seeing the pain decrease and that’s when the excitement started to come back in.

I got this second opportunity and I really want to take advantage of it. I’m super appreciative that the Asian Tour gave me my medical category. I’ve heard so many good things about this event. I’m excited and I love pro-am formats. I have a host family next week and they are really excited to have me. I’m staying with Jarin Todd as well. They’ve made it really comfortable for us.


About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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