GLENCOE, Illinois (Aug. 5, 2010) - An 18-year old high school student from Taiwan earned medalist honors Thursday for the second consecutive year at the prestigious Western Amateur. This year, however, he had to share the honor with an outstanding young golfer from North Dakota.
Cheng-Tsung Pan and TCU senior Tom Hoge, 21, finished with identical totals of 6-under par 207 in the stroke play portion of the tournament, which was reduced to 54 holes from 72 because of rain delays on Wednesday.
The two players led a group of 16 qualifiers into the championship’s match play segment, which begins Friday at host Skokie Country Club.
“It was a surprise to me - just like last year,“ said Pan, who made four birdies and an eagle to go with three bogeys en route to his 3-under 68, low round of the day. “People made bogeys behind me and I was the medalist. The leaderboard said 7-under was ahead. I didn’t think I had a chance.”
Hoge’s 1-under par round of 70 was less eventful than Pan’s but was no less meaningful to a player who grew up attending the Western Amateur as a youngster. Hoge went to the event multiple times with his father, Chuck, who was a member at Point O’ Woods Country Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan – which hosted the event for decades.
“I grew up watching the Western Amateur, so it’s pretty neat to make the Sweet 16,” said Hoge, whose father is caddying for him this week. Hoge secured his co-medalist honor with a birdie on the 18th hole, which has played as the most difficult hole on the course this week. This is his fifth Western Amateur.
A six-man playoff for two spots in the Sweet 16 produced Chan Kim and Gregor Main, each of whom made pars on the first playoff hole (No. 1, par 4) while their four competitors all made bogey.
The other playoff contenders were Oklahoma State teammates Peter Uihlein and Kevin Tway; Stanford incoming freshman Patrick Cantlay, and South African Johan DeBeer, also of TCU. The six finished 54 holes tied at 1-over 214.
The player who improved his position the most Friday was Arizona State senior Scott Pinckney, who began the final round tied for 49th place. Pinckney shot 2-under 69 to finish in a third-place tie at 5-under with third-round co-leader Blayne Barber of Auburn.
Along with Pan, who will be a senior this year at Pendleton High School in Bradenton, Florida, the Sweet 16 youth movement includes two incoming college freshmen: Californian Jeffrey Kang of USC and New York Men’s Amateur champion Yaroslav Merkulov, who is heading to Duke.
This year’s Sweet 16 also features five international players: Pan, Augusta State senior Henrik Norlander of Sweden, Canadian Cam Burke of Eastern Michigan, Australian Kiernan Pratt, and Colombia’s Andres Echavarria, who attends Florida.
Pan is hoping to do better in match play this year than he did last year when the event was held at Conway Farms Golf Club in nearby Lake Forest, Ill. He lost in the first round of match play to eventual champion John Hahn, who missed qualifying for this year’s playoff by one stroke.
“I lost my first match last year, “ Pan said. “I wanted to get into the Sweet 16 again. This year, I will try to get to the semifinals.”
Other players who made it in to the Sweet 16 were 2010 U.S. Public Links champion Lion Kim, incoming TCU senior Travis Woolf, Arkansas junior Ethan Tracy of Ohio, Stanford junior David Chung.
Eighty players had to finish their second rounds before the field could be cut to the low 44 and ties – a total of 52 players. The final round began at 1:45 and the playoff concluded as the sun was setting.
Pan is the first player to repeat as medalist since Aron Price in 2003-04. Before Price, Scott Verplank repeated in 1984-85.