NEWTON, Kan. – On Thursday, Doug Ghim outlasted the defending champion in a 23-hole match. On Friday, he orchestrated one of the great comebacks in the history of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. On Saturday, he’ll play Byron Meth for the honor of having one of their names inscribed on the James D. Standish Trophy for the last time.
Ghim rallied to beat Michael Gellerman, 1 up, and Meth routed Jess Bonneau, 6 and 5, to set the 36-hole championship match for the 89th and final U.S. Amateur Public Links, at the 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
After not trailing in any of his first four matches, Ghim, 18, of Arlington Heights, Ill., never led against Gellerman until he was conceded a birdie on the 18th hole.
Ghim found hazards on the first and second holes, making bogeys, to fall 2 down. He won the par-3 third with a birdie, but followed with three consecutive bogeys starting at No. 5.
But Gellerman, 20, of Sterling, Kan., played nearly as sloppily, winning just one of those holes.
Ghim birdied the eighth to close within one hole, but dropped the 10th and 12th with bogeys to fall three behind with just six holes remaining.
I thought it might be too late, said Ghim, who had led the defending champion, Jordan Niebrugge, before being extended to extra holes in the third round. But my dad – I’m thankful he was there – kept pushing me and kept reminding me that I was not out it, that I’ve been playing well and there was no reason I couldn’t play well on the last few holes.
With Ghim seemingly on the verge of a loss, Gellerman, who was attempting to become the first player in 46 years to win the APL in his home state, lost control of his swing, missing fairways and greens. Starting on No. 13, the senior at the University of Oklahoma bogeyed three of his next four holes and the match was all square.
I was in a good spot with the lead and grinding along, said Gellerman, who lives an hour from Sand Creek Station. I just couldn’t execute. If all you have to do is make par to beat me, it’s not very hard.
After they halved the par-3 17th with pars, both players hit the fairway on the 18th. Playing first, Gellerman blocked his approach onto a steep bank right of the green. Ghim followed with one of his best shots of the day – a punch 6-iron from 164 yards to within 4 feet of the hole. Gellerman pitched to 15 feet, but missed the par putt and conceded the birdie, and the match, to Ghim.
The fact that [Gellerman] went first really benefited me because I could tell how aggressive I could be, said Ghim, who will attend the University of Texas in the fall. Because he went so far right, the door was wide open for me. I aimed left and hit it perfect.
Ghim’s opponent in the final, Meth, 21, of San Diego, has been dialed in all week. He qualified as co-medalist with a pair of 67s and has not trailed in any of his five matches – a span of 83 holes.
In the semifinal against Bonneau, Meth birdied the first two holes to take a 2-up lead that he was never in danger of relinquishing. In total, he birdied six of the 13 holes, including usual match play concessions.
I hadn’t hit the first fairway all week, said Meth. I stuck it to about 20 feet and rolled that one in. Then I hit it to 6 inches on No. 2, so that was a good start.
I tried not to give him any ground. Pick my spots, make aggressive swings and take it from there.
The 43-year-old Bonneau had few counterpunches against Meth’s unyielding attack. After a long week of competition, the Houston resident simply ran out of gas, making four bogeys and two double bogeys.
He put me down right away with a couple of birdies, said Bonneau. I just got a little tired; I got a little out of rhythm and hit three or four shots in a row to the left, and before I knew it I was 4 down.
In Friday morning’s quarterfinal matches, Ghim beat his close friend, John Oda, of Honolulu, 3 and 2, and Meth held off Bryson Dechambeau, of Clovis, Calif., in a hard fought 1-up victory.
Saturday’s match between Ghim and Meth will be the first time since 1929 that co-medalists have faced each other in an APL championship final.
As finalists, both Ghim and Meth have earned exemptions into next month’s U.S. Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. They are also exempt from local qualifying for next year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. The champion will receive a gold medal, custody of the James D. Standish Trophy for the year and, if he remains an amateur, will likely receive an invitation to the 2015 Masters.
The 36-hole championship match is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. CDT.
Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newton, Kan. – Results from 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.
Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. (145) def. Robert Geibel, Pembroke Pines, Fla. (140), 1 up
Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134) def. John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii (140), 3 and 2
Jess Bonneau, Houston, Texas (146) def. Rico Hoey, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (134), 5 and 3
Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134) def. Bryson Dechambeau, Clovis, Calif. (142), 1 up
Newton, Kan. – Results from Friday afternoon’s semifinal matches at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134) def. Michael Gellerman, Sterling, Kan. (145), 1 up
Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134) def. Jess Bonneau, Houston, Texas (146), 6 and 5
Newton, Kan. – The starting time for Saturday’s 36-hole final match at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being held at 7,365-yard, par-71 Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
7:00 a.m. - Doug Ghim, Arlington Heights, Ill. (134) vs. Byron Meth, San Diego, Calif. (134)