British Am: Another Big Day for Korean Golf
19 Jun 2010
by Golfweek

see also: British Amateur Championship, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club


by Alistair Tait

GULLANE, SCOTLAND (June 19, 2010)--Jin Jeong made it three out of three for South Korean-born amateurs when he became the first South Korean to win the British Amateur Championship.

The 20-year-old defeated Arizona State’s James Byrne, 5 and 4, in the 36-hole final to join compatriots Byeong-Hun An and Han Chang-Won as winners of the world’s three principal male amateur tournaments. An is holder of the U.S. Amateur, and Chang-Won triumphed in the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship at Mission Hills last year.

All three championships offer places in the Masters to the winners.

Jeong also earns a spot in this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews courtesy of his historic victory. That was why he entered this championship.

“I can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true,” Jeong said. “I can play in the British Open at St. Andrews, and that means everything. I was thinking of winning the British Amateur so I could come back for the British Open.”

Putting and patience held the key to Jeong’s victory. That much was obvious from the way he holed out all day. Even when Byrne looked to have a chance in the match, Jeong holed out to deny the Scottish player. That was obvious from the morning round.

After being 2 up early and watching Jeong get back to all square after nine holes, Byrne had a chance to win the 14th when the South Korean pushed his tee shot into the right rough.

Jeong could only hack back to the fairway. However, he hit his 100-yard shot to 15 feet and holed for par while Byrne made bogey from the back of the green.

In the afternoon, Jeong made birdie putts of 20 to 25 feet at the fifth, sixth and seventh holes to win all three and establish an unassailable lead.

“Putting is probably the strongest part of my game,” Jeong said. “I practice my stroke every day. I like fast greens more than slow greens.”

Byrne had putted beautifully for the first five days, but his stroke deserted him in the final. When he had a chance to get back into the match, he couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the hole.

“He made so many birdies, and that drains you,” Byrne said. “He never really gave me a chance. The greens were just really tricky, crusty, firm and fast. It was just a matter of holing a few putts, and I just didn’t hole them.”

The 21-year-old was bidding to become the first Scot to win the championship since Stuart Wilson in 2004. More importantly, he was hoping to book his place at St. Andrews for this year’s Open Championship.

“This is the third time I’ve been within shots of getting into the Open. I thought it was going to be lucky this week.”

Byrne had a chance to play in the Open last year when he led Open Qualifying but missed out. He led the European Amateur Championship last year but faded to miss out on a place in this year’s Open.

Jeong is the latest in a long line of Korean men to excel in the royal and ancient game. Like the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, he’s had to leave South Korea to develop his game. An was a senior in high school at Bradenton, Fla., when he won. Jeong was born in Busan, but left South Korea two and half years ago and moved to Australia.

He has permanent residence and is a member of Waverly Golf Club in Melbourne, where Trevor Flakemore coaches him. Jeong is thinking of taking out Australian citizenship at the end of this year.

The plus-5 handicapper’s biggest achievements before this week had been winning the Riversdale Cup and the Tasmanian Open in his adopted land. Winning this tournament surpasses those two victories.

Victory over the Muirfield links marks him as yet another young Korean to watch.

Results For British Amateur Championship
WinKoreaJin JeongKorea1800
Runner-upScotlandJames ByrneScotland1200
SemifinalsEnglandMatthew NixonEngland900
SemifinalsEnglandChris PaisleyEngland900
QuarterfinalsWalesRhys EnochWales700

View full results for British Amateur Championship

ABOUT THE British Amateur

The first stage of the Championship involves 288 players each of whom plays two rounds of 18 holes, one to be played on each of the two courses. The 64 lowest scores over the 36 holes and ties for 64th place will compete in the match play stage of the Championship. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes except the Final which will be over 36 holes.

View Complete Tournament Information

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