University Place, Wash. – Defending champion Byeong-Hun ‘Ben’ An and 2010 NCAA Men’s Division I champion Scott Langley highlighted the list of early winners in the first round of match play at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship at 7,742-yard, par-71 Chambers Bay.
An, an 18-year-old Korean native living in Bradenton, Fla., defeated David Dannelly, 21,of Clemson, S.C., 3 and 2, despite trailing by three holes through four.
I had a really tough opponent, said An, who is a freshman at Cal-Berkeley. I struggled the first five holes while he went birdie-eagle. My dad told me I just needed to play my game and get it close. I knew I had 14 holes to go so I just had to get back on my game. I was hitting the ball really well on the range so I knew I had it in me.
An, who became the youngest champion in U.S. Amateur history at age 17 last year, won three of the next four holes to gain a 1-up lead.
Having the experience of last year’s U.S. Amateur definitely helped me deal with the pressure of being down in a match, An said.
Another highlighted match pitted two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Tim Jackson, 51, of Germantown, Tenn., against Langley, 21, of St. Louis, Mo., who shared low amateur honors at the 2010 U.S. Open. The left-handed senior from the University of Illinois prevailed in a seesaw match in 19 holes.
Jackson, who has been the low amateur at the last two U.S. Senior Opens as well as the medalist at the 2009 U.S. Amateur, took a 2-up lead through seven holes.
It was a tough draw, said Jackson, who was the oldest player to advance to match play. This golf course was an advantage to me to play here and use my experience. You hate losing. Scott played well. I played well early. He played well in the middle holes and we both had chances. It came down to a putt, that’s fun. I’d like to be on the top side of that but looking back I hit a lot of good shots, I competed well. I’m a little a bit older than he is. That’s the fun part to be competitive at my age. No regrets.
Langley rallied for wins on the ninth and 11th holes to square the match. The pair traded wins on 13 and 14 when their opponent made bogey.
Langley then birdied the par-3 17th from 8 feet to reach the 18th with a 1-up edge. There, the veteran Jackson, who has played in nearly 40 USGA championships, holed a tricky downhill 9-foot putt to save par from the bunker to win the hole and extend the match.
On the first extra hole, the par-5 first, Jackson’s third shot hit the green but rolled back off the surface. His recovery chip was 6 feet wide. Langley had hit his third shot, a wedge from well below the hole, to 15 feet. Following Jackson’s chip, Langley holed the birdie putt for the victory.
As soon as I saw Tim’s name, I knew I was going to have to play well to beat him, Langley said. We had quite the match. We both played awesome. I think we were both under par in regulation with the usual concessions. To pull it out in the end after I bogeyed 18 and to hit the shot here (on the first extra hole) and to make the putt was a big relief.
Story written by Pete Kowalski, manager of championship communications. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.