An leads Martin in U.S. Amateur final

Byeong-Hun An hits a shot from the fairway at No. 9 in the morning round of the final of the U.S. Amateur.
Byeong-Hun An hits a shot from the fairway at No. 9 in the morning round of the final of the U.S. Amateur. ( Tracy Wilcox )

Sunday, August 30, 2009

TULSA, Okla. – Byeong-Hun An has a 3-up lead over Ben Martin halfway through the 36-hole final at the U.S. Amateur in a match defined by mistakes from both finalists.

An unpredictable breeze made scoring difficult Sunday moning at Southern Hills. After the players traded birdies over the first two holes, only two birdies were made during the remainder of the morning round.

One hole was halved with double bogeys, another was won with bogey, and pars were good enough to win several holes, including a three-putt on the par-5 13th.

If An holds on for victory, the 17-year-old will become the youngest U.S. Amateur champion in history, breaking the record set last year by Danny Lee. An would also be the second conseuctive Korean-born player to win the U.S. Amateur.

Martin had chances to cut into An’s lead late in the morning round, but Martin lost the par-4 15th hole after three-putting from 12 feet. He ran his downhill birdie putt 15 feet by the hole and missed the comebacker. An went 2 up with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16, then won the next hole when Martin made bogey after trying to drive the short par-4.

His tee shot rolled through the green, and he made bogey after chunking his first chip shot, then hitting his next shot to 15 feet. Martin missed his putt, and An rolled in a 10-foot par putt to go 3 up.

The 18th hole was halved after both players made par putts from about 5 feet. Martin’s approach rolled through the green, and he hit his difficult chip to the back hole location 6 feet by the hole. An’s birdie putt from the front of the green came up 5 feet short. Both players made par for An to stay 3 up heading into the afternoon.

Martin had a 1-up lead after nine holes, but An took the lead after winning the next two holes with par. Martin made birdie on the par-4 12th to draw all square, but An won No. 13 with par after hitting the green in two shots. Martin missed the green and failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker.

Martin hit the flagstick with his tee shot on the par-3 14th, and made bogey after his ball bounded into a bunker, but still won the hole to return the match to all square. An hit his tee shot well short of the green and 3-putted from 35 feet for double bogey.

The players were all square through four holes, but Martin won the par-5 fifth hole with par to go 1 up. The par-3 sixth was halved with double bogeys when both players took three shots to find the green.

An won the par-4 seventh hole with a two-putt fringe from just off the green, but lost the ninth hole when his approach shot to the back hole location spun to the front of the green and he three-putted from 50 feet, including a missed 3-footer for par. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.