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SCGA member Gunn Yang Wins 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship

August 17, 2014

Courtesy of the USGA

Gunn Yang, 20, of San Diego State University, defeated Corey Conners, of Canada, 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final match Sunday to win the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club’s 7,208-yard, par-71 Highlands Course.

“I was just trying to make it to the match-play portion, really,” said Yang, a sophomore who had back surgery in May 2013. “That was the goal, first of all. And then when I made it to the match play, I was like, maybe I can do this. I was just trying to go through by every single match, just trying to play my game and trying to see how it goes, and I got the trophy. So, I'm really excited and really happy about it.”

Yang, who grew up in Korea and played competitive amateur golf in Australia for five years, is the second Korean-born player to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Byeong-Hun “Ben” An, who claimed the title at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., in 2009.

Yang, who was playing in his first U.S. Amateur after qualifying on July 21 at Hacienda GC in La Habra Heights, Calif., held a 1-up lead through the morning 18 holes. He never trailed in the match.

“I haven't won a tournament for a long time, like maybe five or six years,” said Gunn. “I was going through my injury, also. I was just trying to play my game. Obviously, it just popped in my head that if I beat Corey, then I 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.”

Conners, a member of the Canadian national team, won the first hole of the afternoon 18 to square the match and that status held until Yang won the 24th and 25th holes for a 2-up advantage.

Yang led 1 up through 28 holes when the match was suspended at 4:25 p.m. because of dangerous weather. Both players had hit their drives in the fairway on the 29th hole. Play resumed at 6:02 p.m.

“He struck the ball great,” Conners said of Yang. “He made a lot of key putts when he needed to and didn't really have any weaknesses out there. He didn't give me any openings to climb through.”

Yang’s sloping, 18-foot birdie putt on the 32nd hole pushed him to 2-up. Conners, the Mid-American Conference co-player of the year, missed birdie opportunities on the next three holes and Yang’s two-putt for a halving par on the par-3, 35th hole closed the match.

Yang receives a gold medal and custody of the Havemeyer Trophy for the next year. By virtue of reaching the U.S. Amateur Championship final, Yang and Conners each earned an exemption into the 2015 U.S. Open – provided they remain amateurs – and a likely invitation to the 2015 Masters Tournament. The champion receives an exemption into the 2015 British Open Championship.

Yang played in the U.S. Amateur fresh off a quarterfinal appearance at the SCGA Match Play Championship. Earlier this summer, he finished fourth at the SCGA Amateur Championship at Rancho Santa Fe GC.

Want to learn more about Gunn? Click here for our Q&A with the most recent USGA champion!

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Handicap Index: 7.6
Monday, August 18, 2014

A historic win for Gunn Yang and the Aztecs of SDSU. This completes the trifecta for the team this summer as Nahum Mendoza won the San Diego City Amateur championship, Xander Schauffle won the California State Amateur and now Yang wins the United States Amateur championship. Proud moment for Aztec golfers past and present and for SDCC club members where they practice and play.

Go Aztecs, Jerry Davee