by Pete Kowalski, USGA
Tulsa, Okla. – Ben Martin, 22, of Greenwood, S.C., and Byeong-Hun ‘Ben’ An, 17, of Korea, who attends high school in Bradenton, Fla., each won semifinal matches Saturday to advance to the final round of the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship at the par-70, 7,093-yard Southern Hills Country Club.
Martin, who qualified for the 2009 U.S. Open but missed the cut, defeated Charlie Holland, 23, of Dallas, Texas, 5 and 4, in the morning’s first match.
“It was night and day,” said Martin, who was the last player to leave the practice range and practiced late into the evening after Friday’s quarterfinal round. “Yesterday, I couldn't seem to find much, but I settled in there probably at 2 or 3. I kept hitting greens and hitting quality shots and it just got easier as the day went on.”
A two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection for Clemson University, Martin took a 4-up lead after six holes and never trailed in the match. In 14 holes, with the usual match-play concessions, he was the equivalent of even par. The last Clemson player to advance to the final was Chris Patton, who won the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in 1989.
Holland, a quarterfinalist in 2008, defeated USA Walker Cup team member and Oklahoma State All-American Morgan Hoffman, stroke-play medalist Tim Jackson and Oklahoma State sophomore Peter Uihlein en route to facing Martin.
“At 5 and 6, when I was 4 down, I was starting to get worried,” said Holland, who admitted to having a shaky start. “I was all over the place, missing fairways and greens, missing putts. It just wasn't my day. I didn't play great. He hit a lot of great shots and a bunch of putts and he deserves it.”
In the other semifinal match, An, a junior golf All-American, defeated Bhavik ‘Bobby’ Patel, 18, of Bakersfield. Calif., 3 and 2. He is the youngest finalist since 17-year-old Sung Yoon Kim of Korea lost in 1999 to David Gossett. If he wins on Sunday, he would be the youngest champion in history, surpassing 18-year-old Danny Lee of New Zealand, who won in 2008.
“It would be great to win for my country, too, just because it’s the first time and I’m the youngest,” An said. “It would be awesome if I win.”
Through 11 holes, the match tilted back and forth, either all square or with An holding a 1-up lead. But on the par-3 11th, An posted a bogey after missing the green. Patel, a Fresno State University sophomore, saved par from the left rough to move ahead in the match for the first time, 1 up. But Patel’s lead was short-lived. An, a 2009 Western Amateur quarterfinalist, won four of the next five holes to close out the match.
“He's solid,” Patel said of his opponent. “He hit just one loose shot on 11, the par 3. That's pretty much the only big mistake he made all day. I have to give credit to him. He made pars. That's what you need to do out here.”
The U.S. Amateur concludes Sunday with a scheduled 36-hole championship final.
The champion receives a gold medal, custody of the Havemeyer Trophy for the ensuing year, and a 10-year exemption from qualifying for the U.S. Amateur if he remains an amateur. He also receives an exemption into the next U.S. Open, the next British Open and, traditionally, an invitation to the next Masters Tournament. The runner-up receives an exemption into the next U.S. Amateur, the next U.S. Open and, traditionally, an invitation to the next Masters Tournament.
Begun in 1895, the U.S. Amateur is the oldest of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Tulsa, Okla. – Results from Saturday’s semifinal round of match play at the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship, played at the 7,093-yard, par-70 Southern Hills Country Club.
Ben Martin, Greenwood, S.C. (141) def. Charlie Holland, Dallas, Texas (146), 5 and 4
Byeong-Hun ‘Ben’ An, Korea (145) def. Bhavik Patel, Bakersfield, Calif. (145), 3 and 2
Tulsa, Okla. – Pairing for Sunday’s championship round of match play at the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship, played at the 7,093-yard, par-70 Southern Hills Country Club (36 holes).
8 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Ben Martin, Greenwood, S.C. (141) vs. Byeong-Hun ‘Ben’ An, Korea (145)