San Diego State sophomore Gunn Yang has won the 114th U.S. Amateur Championship, beating former Kent State golfer Corey Conners in 35 holes with a 2-up advantage today at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia. As the 776th ranked amateur in the world, Yang becomes the lowest-ranked winner in U.S. Amateur Championship history.
Yang won on the par-3 17th hole by converting a 2-foot par putt, completing an even-par 35-hole round. He is now in select company with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer--all previous U.S. Amateur winners.
Yang, a 20-year-old native of South Korea, wasn't a popular pick to win among the 312 golfers entering the U.S. Amateur. But then, Yang played great, and eventually advanced to the quarterfinals...then he made it to the semifinals...then he beat Virginia All-American Denny McCarthy in a 19th-hole playoff to advance to the finals against the 44th ranked amateur in the world, Canada's Corey Conners...and then he won the final without ever trailing.
Yang saw his lead trim from 2-up to 1-up headed into the second of two 18-hole rounds after he shot a bogey on 18. Conners then birdied the 1st hole in the second round to draw even. But Yang kept with it and rattled off three straight birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes.
Yang and Conners then had to pick up their balls and wait about an hour and a half to continue play on the 11th hole while a storm passed through the course. The extended delay didn't disrupt Yang's game, though, and he shot one under par for the rest of the round. Yang's powerful tee shots and sky-high irons gave him the decisive edge in the end, as he hit the green in regulation 71.4 percent of the time in the final round.
The SDSU golfer earned a spot in the 2015 Master's and the 2015 U.S. Open with his semifinal appearance. With his final victory today, Yang also earns a spot in the 2015 British Open. He earns all these honors as long as a he remains amateur.
Yang has struggled at SDSU, just recovering from spinal surgery seven months ago and losing his scholarship during this past season. And as recently as three weeks ago, Yang was unhappy with his level of play: he withdrew from the California State Open after shooting six over par in the first nine holes.
Well, I think Yang will be getting that scholarship back, and I think it's safe to say this U.S. Amateur victory is a great springboard to propel his SDSU and amateur career.
Yang is the second SDSU golfer to win the U.S. Amateur. World Golf Hall of Famer Gene Littler won it as an Aztec in 1953.