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How Yang Beat Woods: A Story of Believing in Yourself

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I'll be honest: I didn't even bother to watch the final round of the 2009 PGA Tournament at Hazeltine. Tiger Woods was leading after 54 holes, and Tiger was 14-0 after leading going into the final round of a major. I figured the Wannamaker Trophy was on its way to Florida already.

Make that 14-1.

Because Y.E. Yang, a household name only in his native South Korea, beat Tiger in the most improbable upset in major championship history.

How did it happen? You can talk about Tiger missing putts and Yang draining them, about the 110th-ranked player going toe-to-toe with the world's greatest player. But the hidden answer came from Yang himself:

I've sort of visualized this quite a few times playing against the best player in the history of golf, playing with him in the final round in a major championship, always sort of dreamed about this," Yang said Sunday through an interpreter. "I've seen throughout Tiger's career that a lot of players have folded probably on the last day when playing with him.

"So when I was at home or at a tournament watching Tiger in the clubhouse, I'd usually try to visualize and try to bring up a mock strategy how to win, if I ever played against Tiger."

How Yang beat Woods is as stunningly simple as this: he believed he could do it.

Not that he WOULD win. Not that he SHOULD win. But that he COULD win.

"When the chance came, I sort of thought that, hey, I could always play a good round of golf and Tiger could always have a bad day," Yang said. "And I guess today was one of those days."

He wasn't describing one of those woo-woo visualization strategies so often touted these days where you picture a pile of money falling from the sky. Yang emotionally put himself in the situation before it happened, so that when it actually happened, it felt perfectly natural.

It's like Warren Beatty said in Heaven Can Wait, "Let's get to the Super Bowl, and when we get there, let's already have won."

That's a perfect example of how to experience something before it actually happens, something Tiger has honed to an art form. While no one may have stronger belief in himself than Tiger Woods, on this day at least, Y.E. Yang's unstoppable self-belief conquered the world's best.

Of course Yang had to actually perform when his time came. Winning in golf or life isn't a matter of just believing you can do it. You have to DO it.

But my favorite Yang line of all is this:

"I wasn't that nervous, honestly, because it's a game of golf. It's not like you're in an octagon where you're fighting against Tiger and he's going to bite you or swing at you with his nine iron."

Gotta love that guy.

"90 percent of this game is mental. The other half is physical." - Yogi Berra

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Noah St. John is the author of The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness (HarperCollins) and founder of , a success mastery company.

Visit for a free demonstration of how to install Unstoppable Self-Belief in a fraction of the time it took most champions to get there.

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