The strange thing about Sunday's U.S. Amateur final featuring two lightly-decorated finalists: the quality of the golf was incredibly good.
On an abhorrent Rees Jones redesigned course with massive mounds, utterly artificial nonsense around everywhere you look and a fake lake thrown in too often to appease the EA video game crowd, the absurdly difficult Atlanta Athletic Club should have been a nightmare for Gunn Yang and Corey Conners. Yet they kept hitting bold and clutch shots, so all five of the people watching NBC's final USGA telecast were having a grand old time. Count me in, I was glued!
Ryan Lavner puts the absurdity of Yang's ascent into perspective:
Consider the odds: 6,803 entrants were whittled down to 312 qualifiers who advanced to the 64-man match-play bracket that was trimmed to two finalists, and the player who emerged victorious was Yang, a little-known 20-year-old from South Korea. This is a player who has played only four college events and lost his golf scholarship at San Diego State because of poor performance; who is only 15 months removed from back surgery; who withdrew from an event only three weeks ago because of shoddy play; and who, incredibly, is ranked No. 776 in the world, the lowest ever to hoist the Havemeyer Trophy.
“Obviously I want to go crazy,” he said, “but I’m doing an interview right now. I can’t go crazy right here. But I’m really happy about it.”
Nick Masuda says the SDSU scholarship issue has already been addressed.
Needless to say, Donovan's tactics worked to the tune of an improbable U.S. Amateur title Sunday afternoon at the Atlanta Athletic Club, holding off Corey Conners, 2 and 1, to become the second Korean-born champion in the last five years.
"Obviously the scholarship will be signed on tomorrow," Donovan said.
"(It) better. Or else I'm going to transfer," joked Yang, who will enter his sophomore collegiate campaign in just two weeks.
Yang is a tad rough around the edges, as this trophy handoff from USGA President Tom O'Toole demonstrated. Though in Yang's defense, once they hand you the trophy and you aren't very accomplished, you do want to keep both hands on it! Not the Billy-Bubba missed shake, but a nice runner-up.
Adam Schupak on winner Yang's bag, which includes a nice mix of clubs.
Dave Shedloski talks to Conners, who has something more closely resembling a golfing resume, about the issues he faces returning to school or turning pro. His part in the Canadian National Team makes it an easy choice and Conners hopes to enjoy exemptions into the Masters and U.S. Open, then start building toward an Olympic berth in 2016.
The telecast, which ended rather meekly on NBC Sports Network, included this farewell to 12 years of NBC-USGA partnership. Thanks to reader Phil for the link to this YouTube clip of the modest send off.
**Excellent game story from Steve Hammer in the AJC on Yang's improbable win. There was this:
“I never heard of him before, I guess, but it didn’t really surprise me because there are a lot of great players out there,” said a resigned Conners.
It was Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans, the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, who put it a little more succinctly after Yang eliminated him Thursday: “Who is this guy?”
Yang was the guy who packed only three pairs of shorts and four shirts for this trip, which would seem to indicate even he didn’t think he’d be make it very far past two practice rounds and two days of stroke play. Either that or he really likes to do laundry.
“I didn’t want to make my luggage too heavy. Yeah, that was it,” Yang said.
**Yang receives a sponsor's invitation to the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, less than 24 hours after winning.
“When you look at the field assembled at the U.S. Amateur Championship including the top collegiate players and now the world’s top amateurs through the USGA’s format, to win is an incredible accomplishment. To have a Torrey Pines High School alum and now a San Diego State Aztec makes it even more special to our community. The Century Club’s goal is to identify the world’s top players to compete in the Farmers Insurance Open. U.S. Amateur champion fits that criteria, as does Gunn Yang in his victory. We are pleased host Gunn next February for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines,” added Peter Ripa, Farmers Insurance Open/Century Club Chief Executive Officer