Bremerton, Wash. – Anthony Kim, 21, of Traverse City, Mich., and Casey Watabu, 22, of Kapaa, Hawaii, will face off in the championship final at the 81st U.S. Amateur Public Links, being played at the par-72, 7,061-yard Gold Mountain Golf Club.
Kim, a member of the victorious 2005 USA Walker Cup team, advanced with a 6-and-5 semifinal win Friday over Kevin Larsen, 21, of Santa Barbara, Calif., while Watabu moved on with an exciting 20-hole victory over Tim Feenstra, 23, of Lynden, Wash.
Against Larsen, Kim lost the first hole with a bogey but got it right back with a birdie on the 354-yard, par-4 second. He then won five consecutive holes, starting at the par-3 fifth, to take control of the match.
“I got down one again in the afternoon right off the bat with a three-putt,” said Kim. “I didn’t really hit a bad putt, it just didn’t go in. I was thinking, ‘here we go again, I’m going to get down,’ and then I just played a little bit better and got it together.”
For Kim, the big win was dramatically different from his morning quarterfinal match, where he was 4 down after 10 holes to Matt Harmon, 21, of Grand Rapids, Mich. But Kim chipped away at the lead, winning with birdies at the 11th and 14th holes and a par at the 16th, and squared the match when he made birdie to win the par-4 17th.
At the 19th hole, the par-4 first, Harmon got into trouble when he hit his tee shot right. He was unable to get up and down and Kim was able to record a conceded par for the victory.
“For some reason, I just felt more comfortable out there in the afternoon than I did in the morning,” said Kim. “Matt played unbelievable in the morning so I can’t really say that I played bad, but I did give him a couple of holes early and he capitalized and got me pretty far down.”
In his four previous matches, Larsen had only trailed for two holes and had never played past the 15th hole. But against Kim, four consecutive bogeys proved too much to overcome.
“I just didn’t hit it very good,” said Larsen. “I made a bunch of bogeys and my game plan was to make pars.”
The other semifinal match was close throughout, with neither Feenstra nor Watabu holding more than a one-hole advantage. Watabu took a 1-up lead with a birdie on the par-5 13th hole, which is how things stood until the 324-yard, par-4 18th, when Feenstra made a 10-foot downhill putt to send the match to extra holes.
“Tim hit three good shots on 18 and I kind of skanked it around,” said Watabu. “He hit it in close and I knew that his putt was pretty tough from above the hole and I wanted to make him win the hole. I didn’t want to give him the hole. So that’s what I did and he made the putt.”
After the two traded pars on the 19th hole, No. 1, Feenstra ran into trouble on the 20th hole, the par-4 second, when he hit his approach shot into the rough above the green. His first chip didn’t get out of the rough and his second also failed to reach the green. He then conceded the hole, and the match, to Watabu, who was safely on the green.
“My ball striking has gotten better as the week went on,” said Watabu, who has played in two previous U.S. Amateur Public Links but never before advanced to match play. “I guess it’s just up to my putter. I’ve just got to make some putts out there tomorrow.”
Despite the loss, Feenstra enjoyed the experience, particularly the support of a large gallery during his semifinal match. Several hundred spectators came out to Gold Mountain to support the Washington native.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the week that I was going to be a semifinalist, I’d have been tickled pink,” said Feenstra. “But it is disappointing to come up a little short.”
Earlier in the day, Feenstra ousted 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Sihwan Kim, 17, of Buena Park, Calif., 1 up, and Watabu closed out Daniel Im, 21, of Fullerton, Calif., 3 and 1.
Saturday’s 36-hole championship final match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. PDT.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Beth Murrison of the USGA. Contact her at email@example.com with questions or comments.
Bremerton, Wash. – Results following the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play Friday at the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the 7,061-yard, par-72 Gold Mountain Golf Club:
Round of 8
Kevin Larsen, Santa Barbara, Calif. (146) def. Matt Savage, Louisville, Ky. (145), 4 and 3
Anthony Kim, Traverse City, Mich. (143) def. Matt Harmon, Grand Rapids, Mich. (144), 19 holes
Tim Feenstra, Lynden, Wash. (147) def. Sihwan Kim, Buena Park, Calif. (144), 1 up
Casey Watabu, Kapaa, Hawaii (148) def. Daniel Im, Fullerton, Calif. (147), 3 and 1
Round of 4
Kim def. Larsen, 6 and 5
Watabu def. Feenstra, 20 holes
Bremerton, Wash. – Pairings for Saturday’s championship final at the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links at the 7,061-yard, par-72 Gold Mountain Golf Club:
7:30 a.m. & 12:15 p.m. Anthony Kim, Traverse City, Mich. (143) vs. Casey Watabu, Kapaa, Hawaii (148)