Aggressive play nets Gunn Yang U.S. Amateur win
by Rory Sharrock, for AmateurGolf.com with USGA Photo by John Mummert

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - (Aug. 17, 2014) -- The U.S. Amateur is known to test the physical, mental as well as the emotional strengths of its participants and passing this year’s exam with flying gold colors is Gunn Yang from the Republic of Korea, who defeated Canadian star, Corey Conners, 2 and 1.

The San Diego State golfer withstood two opening rounds of stroke play [Monday and Tuesday], a week’s worth of match play and a 36-hole affair on Sunday, which included two bouts of rain, one of which resulted in a 90- minute delay, before leaving Atlanta Athletic Club with amateur golf’s most coveted prize. Yang’s championship performance also earned him his first tournament win after a long drought – and what better spot to snap a losing streak than at the U.S. Amateur.

“I was just trying to make it to the match play portion, really. That was the goal, first of all. Then when I made it to the match play, I was like maybe I can do this,” said Yang.

“I haven't won a tournament for a long time, like maybe five or six years, and I was going through an injury, also. So I was just trying to play my game today [Sunday]. Obviously, it just popped in my head like if I beat Corey [Conners], I’d win the trophy. But I was just trying to concentrate and just trying to hit balls and just put it next to the hole and make the putt. So I'm really excited and really happy about it.”

Yang was 1-up on No. 11 when a heavy rainstorm fell upon the course and USGA officials called for a suspension of play. While players and spectators rushed for shelter, Yang utilized the time to cool off from the heat and refocus on the task at hand.

“I knew it was going to rain, but I was like, I told my caddie that you don't need to carry all my rain gear,” said Yang.

“We just need an umbrella, but it rained quite heavily the first time. Then the second time when it rained, it was a lot worse. So luckily, we got into the car and then I took a nap for 30 minutes and then I was refreshed because I was so tired after playing 18 holes. I mean, it was hot, also, today. I was physically tired, but mentally, I was so stressed out. It definitely helped.”

When play resumed, Yang and Conners encountered a different course, especially on green. The storms slowed the lighting fast ACC surfaces down a touch (they were running at 13 before the rain) and the greens became more receptive to approach shots as well.

“Putting was the key. Out here, it’s all about putting I think because the greens are rolling so quickly, especially today. I've never played on those kind of greens before, so I had some trouble with distance control out there.”

After flagging his uphill approach shot on the 34th hole, Yang had a chance to close out the match but lipped out a four-foot putt for birdie, giving Conners hope for a late rally. Nevertheless, Conners’ shortcoming on a birdie attempt on 35, and Yang’s two-putt par sealed the victory, 2 and 1.

Yang becomes the second Korean-born player to win the U.S. Amateur following Byeong-Hun An, who won the crown in 2009 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. This year also marks the back-to-back U.S. Amateur Championships during which the finale featured two international players.

“The game is growing globally in some places more than it is in the U.S.,” said Thomas O’Toole, President of the USGA. “Certainly, if the U.S. Amateur Championship is going to keep its stature as the most coveted title in amateur golf, than we have to include foreign- born players. That’s why we expanded our exemption categories so they wouldn’t have to travel all the way over here to play in sectional qualifying. We think this makes our championship better. Korea has had boom on the women’s side and they’re starting to have it on the men’s side. There’s a lot of growth in Asia and I think we’ll start to see growth in Latin America too.”

Results: U.S. Amateur
WinKoreaGunn YangKorea2000
Runner-upCanadaCorey ConnersCanada1500
SemifinalsMDDenny McCarthyBurtonsville, MD1000
SemifinalsTXFrederick WedelThe Woodlands, TX1000
QuarterfinalsTXRoman RobledoHarlingen, TX700

View full results for U.S. Amateur

ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur

The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA championship, was first played in 1895 at Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent amateur competition in the world. Applications are typically placed online in the spring at www.usga.org.

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