Ghim Ousts Defending Champ, Advances to Quarterfinals

Doug Ghim, with his dad serving as his caddie, outlasted defending champion Jordan Niebrugge in a 23-hole match on Thursday afternoon to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. (USGA/Chris Keane)
By Mike Trostel, USGA
July 17, 2014

NEWTON, Kan. – Doug Ghim outlasted defending champion Jordan Niebrugge in a 23-hole match and Kansan Michael Gellerman continued his dominant play in the third round of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.

Record-low temperatures that never got out of the 60s and a persistent drizzle kept many players in jackets and under umbrellas on Thursday, but Ghim overcame both the conditions and a stubborn opponent to earn a berth in the quarterfinals.

The 18-year-old from Arlington Heights, Ill., surged ahead of Niebrugge early with birdies on five of the first seven holes to take a 4-up lead. But the defending champion battled back, winning four of the next five holes to square the match.

After pars halved the 13th, the players traded birdies – Ghim at the 14th, Niebrugge at the 15th – to remain all square.

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With the match still tied and Ghim in for par on the 18th, Niebrugge curled in a 10-foot putt to force extra holes.

After pars halved the first four playoff holes, Ghim found a fairway bunker at the 23rd. He laid up to 75 yards, then wedged to 10 feet. The advantage seemed to be with Niebrugge, who was on the fringe, but the defending champion knocked his chip 12 feet past the hole and missed the comeback putt. Given the opportunity to close out the long match, Ghim stroked his par putt into the hole for the hard-earned victory.

“[Niebrugge] is the defending champion; he was on the Walker Cup Team and he played in the Masters,” said Ghim, who will attend the University of Texas this fall. “I knew he was going be the real deal. I was 4 up and he got all the way back to square and that says a lot.

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“We kind of hung onto each other like parasites; neither one would go away. If one of us looked like he was going to win, the other one just clung on and somehow got the up and down.”

Although Niebrugge failed to match last year’s run, the Oklahoma State junior left Sand Creek Station with some positives.

“From the way I started the week, I was pretty proud of how I stuck in there,” said Niebrugge, who needed three birdies in his last nine holes of stroke-play qualifying to make the match-play field. “Especially today, being 4 down through seven. I clawed back and was able to get it to even, but just couldn’t get it done. All the credit to him.”

Michael Gellerman, 21, of Sterling, Kan., remained on track to be a homegrown winner, defeating veteran Jon Veneziano, of Mount Dora, Fla., 3 and 2. Gellerman played just 45 holes (winning 20) through three rounds of match play – the fewest of any quarterfinalist.

For the third consecutive match, Gellerman birdied the short par-4 ninth and par-5 10th. Against Veneziano, it broke a deadlock and put him ahead to stay.

“I’ve had a good feeling through the middle of the round,” said Gellerman, a senior at the University of Oklahoma. “It’s been huge because it puts a lot of pressure on the other guy to start pressing, and in match play that’s what you want [your opponent] to do.”

Other winners on Thursday afternoon were Bryson Dechambeau, of Clovis, Calif., the 2013 Trans-Mississippi Amateur champion; 43-year-old Jess Bonneau, of Houston; Robert Geibel, of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Jon Oda, of Honolulu; and co-medalists Rico Hoey, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Byron Meth, of San Diego.

The APL is one of 13 individual national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

The quarterfinal round of match play begins Friday at 7 a.m. CDT. The winners will advance to the semifinals, which are scheduled to begin Friday at 12:30 p.m. CDT. The 36-hole final is scheduled for Saturday.

Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at


Newton, Kan. – Results from Thursday afternoon’s third round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links  Championship being held at 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.

Upper Bracket

Robert Geibel, Pembroke Pines, Fla. (140) def. Cody McManus, Phoenix, Ariz. (144), 19 holes

Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. (145) def. Jon Veneziano, Mount Dora, Fla. (145), 3 and 2

Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134) def. Jordan Niebrugge, Mequon, Wis. (146), 23 holes

John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii (140) def. Gavin Green, Malaysia (142), 2 and 1

Lower Bracket

Rico Hoey, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (134) def. Matt Record, Scottsdale, Ariz. (146), 3 and 2

Jess Bonneau, Houston, Texas (146) def. Joshua Baskins, Redding, Calif. (145), 4 and 3

Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134) def. Garrett Rank, Canada (141), 3 and 2

Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. (142) def. Tyler McDaniel, Manchester, Ky. (146), 1 up


Newton, Kan. – Pairings and starting times for Friday morning’s quarterfinal matches at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course. All times CDT. (Note: Semifinal matches to be played Friday afternoon)

Upper Bracket

7:00 a.m. - Robert Geibel, Pembroke Pines, Fla. (140) vs. Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. (145)

7:15 a.m. - Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134) vs. John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii (140)

Lower Bracket

7:30 a.m. - Rico Hoey, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (134) vs. Jess Bonneau, Houston, Texas (146)

7:45 a.m. - Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134) vs. Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. (142)

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