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Y.E. Yang – and caddie – return to site of 2009 breakthrough

Baltimore Sun

The guy from the Windy City just happens to work for a guy who loves the wind.

It was blowing strong Tuesday at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of the Honda Classic and the site of Y.E. Yang's 2009 breakthrough on the PGA Tour.

"Mr. Yang loves it," said his Chicago area-born caddie, A.J. Montecinos. "It was windy where he grew up. And he's an awesome ball striker."

So good that five months after the Korean-born Yang survived "The Bear Trap" - a three-hole stretch at the Jack Nicklaus redesign - he tamed a Tiger at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine.

That major statement, Montecinos said, gave Yang "more notoriety and more respect. It let the world know how great he really is. And he's such a great person - a cool cat, so down to earth. He's as real as the day is long."

Montecinos is not just saying that because Yang stuck by his word and gave his bag man a big enough bonus after last season to allow him to pay off his Mitsubishi Gallant and home in suburban Dallas.

Yang is also not one to hold a grudge. The 38-year-old former bodybuilder took the lead last Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with four straight back-nine birdies. Then he hooked his tee shot into the water on the driveable par-4 17th.

Montecinos said he should have pressed Yang, who finished third behind Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, to wait for the green to clear.

"It was 350 (yards) to the back hole (location) and we just wanted to roll it to the front edge," Montecinos said. "He seemed ready to go, but I take full responsibility. I didn't sleep very well Sunday night."

Montecinos, 36, met Yang at the second stage of Q School in December 2007. The 2009 Honda was just their fourth PGA Tour event together, but their bond transcended their language barrier. Now Yang is the world's 27th-ranked player.

"A world-class player long before he met me," Montecinos said.

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