My opinion of Karen Crouse just went up a thousandfold: she points out that Y.E. Yang himself gives credit to Se Ri Pak, whose 1998 U.S. Women's Open victory actually sparked the golf boom in Korea. But it's worth pointing out that Pak was only the 1st Korean-born player to win a major. In fact, the 1st Asian-born player to win a major was Hisako Higuchi, who won the LPGA Championship in 1977. As I noted last summer, Ayako Okamoto followed in Higuchi's footsteps and became one of the elite players on the LPGA in the '80s, but despite wins here and there by Japanese golfers on tour during and after Okamoto's prime (most notably the 4 by Hiromi Kobayashi), there has been been no "Higuchi effect" or "Okamoto effect" at all comparable to the "Pak effect" that Crouse rightly credits.
So the question arises: by 2020, will the "Yang effect" be more Higuchi-like or more Pak-like?
[Update 1 (8:57 am): Doug Ferguson also mentions Pak in his article on the significance of Yang's win for Asian golf, but like Crouse seems completely unaware of Higuchi.]
[Update 2 (1:51 pm): Here's Stephanie Wei's take, which is closer to Ferguson's than mine. Here's why I think it's going to take a lot for Asian men to match the accomplishments of Asian women in the world of golf in the next decade. In the current Rolex Rankings, there are 3 female golfers of Asian descent in the top 10, 8 in the top 20, 16 in the top 30, 24 in the top 40, 31 in the top 50, 48 in the top 75, and 66 in the top 100. By contrast, there are 13 male golfers of Asian descent in the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking (and that's including Tiger, Vijay, Anthony Kim, and Kevin Na). There are several reasons why it's going to be very difficult for the guys to catch up to the girls over the next decade.
First, fields are stronger for the men in Europe than the women, so there will not only be a larger number of American players to pass but also Europeans for Asian/-American men. Just getting cards and making cuts on the PGA and Euro tours will be such a challenge that it may pose a financial disincentive to leave Asian tours for all but the very best golfers on them, but given the way the OWGR works, taking that risk will be the only way to break into the top 100. Prodigies like Ryo Ishikawa and Danny Lee have 2 made cuts between them in over 15 tries (1 each) in their testing of the waters on the PGA this season. Lee has stated he wants to play in Europe and Ryo-kun has no plans to leave Japan just yet. They're young still--very young--but there have been plenty of similarly-amazingly-talented youngsters who never made it on the PGA over the years.
With so many more world-class male golfers than female, and the number and ability of guys good enough to stay at the top into their 40s showing no signs of diminishing, it's tough on everyone coming up, but especially tough when the top men's tours put such a premium on the power game. The LPGA has never felt the need to lengthen courses or grow the rough (both of which are supposed to rein in the big hitters but actually benefit them). As a result, players of all styles can win just about any given week on the LPGA. Not all the Asian/-American female golfers are precision players, of course--Ya Ni Tseng, Vicky Hurst, Michelle Wie, Jee Young Lee, and Pat Hurst are bombers, while many of the younger Asian players are averaging over 255 (top 40 on tour)--but probably the majority still are. You don't see too many precision players left on the PGA these days. This power barrier will sort for taller and stronger players, which will cut into the population advantage that Asia has over Europe and North America.
So will comparative lack of access to golf courses in Asia. And compulsory military service for men only in Korea. And the fact that men have more professional sports options than women, in Asia as everywhere else.
For these reasons, color me skeptical that we'll see even 33 male golfers of Asian descent in the OWGR top 100 by 2020.]