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Wally Uihlein, CEO of the company that owns the Titleist and FootJoy brands, who helped match the China Golf Association and the Australian PGA to develop a teacher certification program in China, says growth depends on many factors.
Among them are a strong middle class, a golf teaching program, ample places to play -- driving ranges are as important as golf courses -- and the presence of the professional game. If Yang's victory has a ripple effect, he believes the biggest waves will be in Korea.
"Korea is in a league of its own, and no one should be surprised with their success in men's and women's golf," Uihlein said in an e-mail Monday morning. "It has been taking shape for the past 10 years."
Yang's victory at the PGA Championship comes nearly one year after 18-year-old Danny Lee, who was born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, won the U.S. Amateur to replace Woods in the record book as the youngest champion.
Two years ago, Seung Yul Noh had the lowest qualifying score in the U.S. Junior Amateur.
"As to its impact on some of the other countries in the Pacific Basin, that remains to be seen," Uihlein wrote. "One could argue as competitive as the region is, if Korea steps on the pedal, then the other countries will too, so as not to be left too far behind."
At the moment, Yang stands alone -- the first Asian-born man to win a major, the first player anywhere to beat Woods after he led going into the last round of a major.
"This is heartening," Dawson said. "This is long overdue."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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