TUCSON, ARIZ., (July 31, 2009) - Chan Kim of Chandler, Ariz., a 19-year-old Arizona State sophomore, held off two United States Walker Cup hopefuls to win the 43rd Pacific Coast Amateur Championship by one shot at The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson.
Kim, the 2008 Arizona Amateur and 2007 Hawaii Amateur champion, fired a 4-under-par 68 today for a 72-hole total of 17-under par 271 at The Gallery GC's South Course, site of the 2007 and 2008 World Golf Championship's Accenture Match Play Championship.
He finished one shot ahead of Zack Sucher of Mobile, Ala., who had held at least a share of the lead in each of the first three rounds and had plenty of chances to win today only to fall short.
On a day when red (under-par) scores littered the leaderboard, Mark Anderson of Beaufort, S.C., another Walker Cup hopeful, and Richard Lee of Bellevue, Wash. each shot 4-under-par 68 to tie for third place at 14 under par. Anderson would have finished in third place alone had he not missed a two-foot par putt on the final hole.
Another Chandler resident, 18-year-old Andrew Yun, posted a 7-under-par 65 to finish in fifth place at 13 under par. He was one of two players to shoot 65 today (the other was Brett Kanda of La Canada), which tied the course record set Tuesday by Sucher and Eric Mina of Fremont, Calif. when they shared the first-round lead and matched by Daniel Miernicki, of Santee, Calif. on Wednesday before he had to withdraw with an injury.
Kim, who grew up on Oahu, and the 22-year-old Sucher, who just finished his eligibility at the University of Alabama - Birmingham, each posted three birdies on the front nine to separate themselves from the pack, but Kim took the lead for good with birdies on the 10th and 12th holes. Sucher never made another birdie in the round and he missed several makeable opportunities down the stretch, including birdie putts on the 17th and 18th holes that hung on the edge of the hole.
"I was shaking coming down the last few holes," said the 6-foot, 4-inch Kim after his round. "I had spent all last week working on my irons and putting because I knew that would be crucial at The Gallery. So I was confident coming in and when I made four consecutive birdies to start the back nine yesterday, I really felt pumped and it carried over into today."
The key hole in the round may have been the 480-yard 13th where Kim yanked his drive left into desert. "I was lucky I had a stance," he admitted later. He hacked back into the fairway and then punched an 8-iron from 144 yards out to within 10 feet of the hole and sank the par putt. "That was clearly a turning point," he said later.
Another critical shot came on the 447-yard 18th hole. Coming off a three-putt bogey 6 on the 17th hole, Kim drove into a fairway bunker but nailed a 9-iron shot from 145 yards out to within seven feet of the hole. After Sucher had his birdie trip end on the lip, Kim two-putted for par and the victory.
Sucher was upset after missing several putts down the stretch. "It was a very frustrating day," he said afterwards. "I'm tired of lipouts." Kim sympathized. "I can't believe that all of his putts stayed out of the hole. "
In a year when Tucson's Dr. Ed Updegraff, who won the inaugural Pacific Coast Amateur after the event was resurrected in 1967, was honored by having a new perpetual trophy named for him, Kim became the first Arizona golfer to win the event since Phoenix's Billy Mayfair won back-to-back titles in 1987-88. Kim is also the first Hawaii native to win the championship.
The 44th Pacific Coast Amateur will be played July 27-30, 2010 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.