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Yang needs to find closing touch again

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Only two years ago, Y.E. Yang closed out one of the game's greatest champions.

Yang birdied the final hole at the 2009 PGA Championship to beat Tiger Woods, who had never lost a 54-hole lead in a major prior to that.

The 39-year-old Korean hasn't won on the PGA Tour since becoming the first Asian to win a major, but did win the 2010 China Open on the European Tour.

Yang finished 36 holes at the Masters at five-under-par 139 after an even-par 72 on Friday. He walked off the course three strokes out of the lead, but it was his the end of both rounds that cost him.

After a back-to-back birdies gave Yang a share of the lead on Thursday, he bogeyed the final two holes to fall back to five-under.

"At that point, I was the co-leader and I was a bit overzealous and I thought to gamble," Yang admitted after his round. "It didn't pan out very well."

In Friday's second round, Yang tripped to a bogey on the first, making it three straight bogeys dating to the end of round one. He responded with three consecutive birdies to jump back up the leaderboard.

Yang birdied the par-five eighth for the second straight day to grab a piece of the lead at minus-eight. It was all downhill from there, though.

A day after making birdie on the ninth, Yang tripped to a bogey there in round two and followed with another bogey on the 10th. Yang reeled off five straight pars before faltering to another bogey at the 16th.

Yang parred the last two to finish the final 10 holes at three-over par, dropping him to minus-five.

"I had a couple of three-putts, a total of three bogeys after hitting eight- under. So it's been kind of a rolling, up-and-down day for me," Yang stated. "I'm a little bit disappointed compared to yesterday, but there's still a lot of golf left."

Despite stumbling at the end of his first two rounds, Yang has put himself in good position entering the weekend. His third round scoring average for the year is 69.25, while his final round average is 70.5.

If he can put together two rounds of five-under on the weekend, Yang surely will be in contention for his second major title.

Yang will have to battle through a tight shoulder, not tight nerves, to get that second major.

"I've been having this kind of stiffness in my left shoulder that comes into effect at the end of a round if I get a bit tired," Yang explained. "If there were any bad drives, it was more from the stiffness in my shoulder than any psychological issues."

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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