PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Y.E. Yang was first to finish at last year's Honda Classic.
This time, he finished first.
Alone in front throughout, Yang shot a final round of 2-under 68 Sunday to finish one shot ahead of John Rollins and pick up his first PGA Tour victory.
The Korean took command with three straight birdies on the front side and wouldn't fold, picking up a two-year exemption and a check for $1,008,000. With the win, he qualified for next week's CA Championship at Doral, plus earned an invitation to next month's Masters.
Yang played last year's final round at PGA National by himself, going off first and needing only 1 hour, 53 minutes to finish.
He was there until the very end this time, pumping his fist in the air when his 50-footer for birdie nestled to a stop a foot away from the cup, giving him a tap-in for victory.
For a guy whose claim to fame was beating Tiger Woods at the 2006 HSBC Champions in Shanghai, it was a moment to savor.
Rollins made birdie at the par-5 18th to get within two shots of Yang, who was one hole behind and in a greenside bunker at the par-3 17th. And when Yang's 10-footer for par tailed right and stopped short, the lead four shots earlier in the day was down to one.
He cringed when his third shot sailed off target at the finishing hole, but coolly two-putted for the win.
Rollins (67) was alone in second and he, like Yang, qualified for the CA Championship by moving into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings. Ben Crane (68) was third after finishing 6 under and Jeff Klauk (71, with 17 pars and one bogey) was alone in fourth, another shot back.
There were 25 players who started the final round within six shots of Yang's lead, and some made early charges.
Robert Allenby started with two birdies in his first three holes and eventually got to 7 under, but never got going on the back side and finished 4 under, tied for fifth with Will MacKenzie (70), Fredrik Jacobson (70) and Scott Piercy (65).
Mark Calcavecchia was seeking an oddity: Winning the Honda for the third time, on what could be described as an every-11-year plan. He won the event in 1987 and 1998.
But the string wouldn't continue in 2009.
Just like last year, when he was in contention during the Honda's final round before chipping onto a waterside pile of rocks and then tossing his ball into the drink at the 15th, Calcavecchia's chances were all wet again.
This time, his undoing came at the 11th, when he hit into a greenside hazard. He rolled up his right pant leg, hacked the ball out of some muck and salvaged a bogey, but got no closer and shot 73, capped by another tee ball in the water at the 17th.
And Rory McIlroy still bidding to become the youngest winner in PGA Tour history worked his way up the leaderboard as well, before consecutive bogeys to end his round left him tied for 13th.
"I'm pretty disappointed the way I finished," McIlroy said. "I got myself into a great position this afternoon and just let it slip."
With that, the 19-year-old turned his attention quickly to Doral. If he wins there, he'll top Johnny McDermott as the youngest tour winner ever; McDermott set the mark by winning the 1911 U.S. Open.
"If I can just keep playing the way I have been, maybe just try and give myself a few more opportunities and try and limit my bogeys, I'll hopefully have another good one next week," McIlroy said.
Davis Love III also was part of the nine-way tie for 13th, which turned out to be significant. Love should barely be No. 50 in the world rankings on Monday, which would be good enough to get him into Doral. If he stays in the top 50 through Bay Hill, he'd be back at Augusta National as well.
Erik Compton's inspiring week ended with a 72, finishing tied for 44th at 3 over. The two-time heart transplant recipient said he struck the ball but simply couldn't score, three-putting from 20 feet at the first, missing a tap-in at 15, and not making anything longer than 8 feet all day.
He will play next week on a sponsor's exemption in Puerto Rico, take a week off, then finish the month at Bay Hill.
And while walking the 72 holes left him a bit tired he is, after all, nine months removed from getting his third heart Compton refused to make excuses.
"I'm just stupid to think that I can play well enough to win out here," Compton said. "I should have done better this week. I played better than what I got out of my game. So that's the frustrating part. My health is fine."
Safe to say, Yang was feeling better than Compton.
He took a job on a driving range as a 19-year-old by comparison's sake, the same age McIlroy is now and didn't break 100 the first time he played.
Now, the son of vegetable farmers is a PGA Tour winner.
Notes:@ The last person to win the Honda by more than two shots was Calcavecchia, who beat Vijay Singh by three in 1998. ... Klauk had a chance to chip in at the 14th hole for the third straight day, but missed by about a foot. ... Defending champion Ernie Els shot 66 and finished tied for 22nd.