Brad Benjamin, 22, of Rockford, Ill., defeated Nick Taylor, 21, of Canada, 7 and 6, to win the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the 7,289-yard, par-71 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Benjamin , who led 4 up after 18 holes in the scheduled 36-hole final, applied the pressure to Taylor immediately in the afternoon, winning the 19th hole by hitting his approach shot on the 468-yard par-4 first hole to within 3 feet for birdie, which was conceded by Taylor. Benjamin continued his aggressive play, matching Taylor’s birdie on the 621-yard par-5 fifth hole, the 23rd of the match, and then making a 30-foot birdie putt on the 175-yard par-3 sixth hole to go 6 up through 24 holes.
I just tried to stay patient and take it one shot at a time, said Benjamin. My mindset the whole day was to stay in my routine and do the same thing every shot. It was hard to do that those last three or four holes, but that definitely helped me on the first 25, no question.
Benjamin birdied the 437-yard, par-4 11th hole to go 7-up and dormie in the match, and then closed out Taylor by nearly acing the 164-yard par-3 12th hole. When Taylor conceded the putt, the match was over and Benjamin became the 2009 champion.
I played well the entire week, so to be in the final match and lose is definitely disappointing, said Taylor. But Brad played unbelievably well in the afternoon. He pretty much did to me what I did to the other guys during match play.
Taylor , the low amateur at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, was the prohibitive favorite entering the final. The stroke-play medalist at 6-under-par 136, he had cruised through the match play bracket, needing only a combined 72 holes to win his five previous matches.
Benjamin , though lacking Taylor’s resume, had hit the clutch shots he needed to in the championship just to reach the final. He won his semifinal match by birdieing the 18th hole to win, 1 up, when he hit a 9-iron from 148 yards to 5 feet and made the putt to advance to the final. When asked if he learned something new about himself during the week, or whether he had to do something out of the ordinary to win the championship, his answer was succinct.
I did what I knew I was capable of, said Benjamin. It’s that simple.
Benjamin , who plays left-handed but putts right-handed, became the second left-handed player to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links, after Ralph Howe III in 1988, and the fifth left-hander to win any USGA championship.