Johns Creek, Georgia - San Diego State men’s golfer Gunn Yang (Pyeong Chang, South Korea/Torrey Pines HS) put the finishing touches on a storybook tournament on Sunday, posting a 2 & 1 triumph over Corey Conners (Listowell, Ontario, Canada) in the finals of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia.
With his title, the Aztec sophomore earns an exemption to the 2015 U.S. Open and British Open, as well as an invitation to the Master’s tournament. Yang also becomes the second SDSU golfer to capture the U.S. Amateur title after Gene Littler accomplished the feat in 1953.
In addition, Yang joins an elite list of professional golfers who have their names engraved on the Havemeyer Cup, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Stadler, Jerry Pate, Mark O’Meara, Hal Sutton, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
Yang never trailed in his finals match with Conners as the two players endured a 97-minute weather delay after completing the 28th hole during the afternoon session. When play resumed, the Torrey Pines High alumnus found himself clinging to a 1-up lead, but managed to halve the ensuing three holes. On No. 32, Yang drained a clutch birdie while Conners settled for par, extending his advantage to 2-up.
Yang nearly experienced disaster on the following hole where he pushed his tee shot to the right on the, par-3 178-yard 33rd. Although his ball struck a tree branch before coming to rest two feet from a water hazard, Yang saved par with a beautiful chip that rolled to within five feet of the hole, followed by a short putt.
Yang had a chance to close out Conners, a Kent State alumnus, on the ensuing hole after sticking his second shot on the par-4, 473-yard No. 34 to within four feet of the pin. However, his subsequent birdie try skirted the left-hand side of the cup, allowing Conners, who made his par putt, to keep his title hopes alive.
Both golfers gave themselves excellent birdie opportunities on the par-3, 192-yard 35th with impressive shots off the tee. After Yang’s first putt rimmed off the right side of the cup, Conners needed a successive make to prolong the match. However, his attempt rolled long, while Yang tapped in for par to secure the championship in his very first USGA event.
Conners, who was down two holes after the 17th, managed to even the match with a birdie at No. 18 and a par on the 19th, while Yang went par-bogey. The score remained all square over the next four holes, until Yang went ahead for good with a birdie on the par-4, 429-yard No. 24.
Yang qualified for the U.S. Amateur after winning his sectional at Hacienda Country Club in La Habra, California, on July 21. After tying for the 21st position in medal competition with a 2-under 141, Yang advanced to match play where he reeled off six straight victories, including a win over Ollie Schniederjans, the world’s No. 1 ranked amateur, in the round of 16. In the semifinals on Saturday, Yang outlasted Pepperdine junior Frederick Wedel in 19 holes to clinch a spot in the finals.
San Diego State commences its 2014 fall schedule next month when it competes in the Southwestern Intercollegiate, Sept. 8-9, in Westlake Village, California.