But in the end, Meth, 21, from San Diego, climbed back from
the deficit to reach the spot where he had been all week – on top – and
defeated Ghim in a closely contested 37-hole match to claim the 89th and final
U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, at the 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek
Station Golf Course.
In the first APL championship match played between
co-medalists since 1929, Meth and Ghim did not disappoint, playing an
entertaining, extremely competitive match marked by a high level of play. The
players halved four holes with birdies, and Meth made 11 birdies to Ghim’s
seven birdies and three eagles (one conceded).
The morning and afternoon rounds had similar rhythms. In
both, Meth went up – 3 up in the first 18, 2 up in the second – before
Ghim, 18, of Arlington Heights, Ill., came back to take the lead during the
middle of the course. Meth recovered during the closing holes, and the players
walked off the 18th green the way the day had begun: all square.
Notebook: Ghims Embrace Memorable Week
But when they finished playing the 18th hole for the second
time, the momentum was clearly with Meth, who proved to be the tougher
competitor. Standing on the 36th tee with a 1 up lead, Ghim hit a drive right,
out of bounds. He made a double-bogey 6 on the 429-yard closing hole, allowing
Meth to win despite a three-putt.
The first hole of the playoff was the par-5 10th – a hole
Ghim had won twice on Saturday. After both players found the fairway with their
drives, Ghim hit another shot to the right – this time with a 3-wood – that
found the lateral hazard running down the right side of the hole. Ghim was able
to hack out, but hit his fourth shot over the green. Meth played his second
away from trouble into the left rough and found the green safely in regulation.
When Ghim’s chip didn’t find the hole, two putts gave Meth the championship.
“It's just an absolute honor,” said Meth of being the final
APL champion. “My dad and I were joking about being the perpetual champion
coming into this [championship]. It was a week I'll never forget.”
Ghim and Meth kept the mood light, even as they endured the
pressure-filled crucible of a championship final. Arriving on the first tee to
start the second 18, Ghim fist-bumped Meth and said, “Let’s have some fun.”
“I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all day,” said Meth,
a senior at the University of the Pacific. “It was just an absolute blast and
one of the best weeks on the golf course I’ve ever had, regardless of the
actual scores and the results. It was just so much fun.”
For the second consecutive match, Ghim found himself 3 down
early in the round. Despite a late surge against Meth that positioned him 1 up
on the 36th tee, Ghim could not finish the comeback the way he did against
Michael Gellerman in the semifinals.
“I’m proud of how I fought at various times when it looked
like there might not be any chance to get to the next round,” said Ghim, who
will attend the University of Texas this fall. “I feel like I proved myself,
and I’m very excited for the future.”
For his victory, Meth receives a gold medal and custody of
the James D. Standish Trophy. If he remains an amateur, he will receive
exemptions into the next two U.S. Amateurs and a three-year exemption from
local U.S. Open qualifying. He is also likely to receive an invitation to the
2015 Masters Tournament. Ghim is exempt into next month's U.S. Amateur at the
Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.
Hunki Yun is the director of strategic projects for the USGA.
Email him at email@example.com.
Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian
at the USGA Museum. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newton, Kan. – Results from Saturday’s 36-hole final at
the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,365-yard,
par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134) def. Doug
Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134), 37 holes