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Hazeltine win gives Yang U.S. Open hope at Congressional

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

BETHESDA, Maryland (Reuters) - South Korean Yang Yong-eun will go into Saturday's third round of the U.S. Open six shots behind pacesetting Briton Rory McIlroy but with happy memories of his first major victory two years ago.

Yang trailed Tiger Woods by the same margin at the halfway point of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National where the Korean went on to triumph by three strokes after overhauling the-then world number one in the final round.

"That would be a good experience to draw on if I come into that situation again," the 39-year-old Yang told reporters after carding a two-under-par 69 in Friday's second round at Congressional.

"I'll probably remind myself tomorrow morning again about that. It's definitely a pleasant memory, and it can only do me more help than harm if I remember that going into tomorrow's round."

Yang will also draw on memories of his two-shot victory at last year's Korea Open where he trailed compatriot Noh Seung-yul by a staggering 10 strokes after 54 holes.

"So anything can happen in golf," said Yang, speaking through an interpreter. "I know this is a different kind of level of golf tournament, but still, there are many amazing things that can happen."

Yang, who held off Woods to win the 2007 European Tour's Champions tournament in China, was unsure where he stood on the leaderboard at Congressional when he teed off in the second round.

Early starter McIlroy had already completed his round, firing a spectacular 66 in front of huge galleries at Congressional to set a U.S. Open record total of 11-under 131.

"I had no target in mind whatsoever," said Yang, who had opened with a 68. "I just saw that it was like maybe seven to nine strokes ahead for Rory, or maybe even 10.

"So I didn't really think about what Rory's game was like or how I'm going to catch him. It was just me trying to duplicate and replicate what I did yesterday."

Yang, who mixed four birdies with two bogeys on a humid afternoon of sporadic sunshine and two weather delays due to the threat of lightning, planned to maintain the same approach on Saturday.

"I do have a strategy and that's just to zone out everything around me and just play my game," said the Korean who was alone in second place at five-under 137.

"I'm just going to try and block out everybody around me, every aspect around me, and just imagine I'm having a practice round of my own."

(Editing by Ian Ransom)

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