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Kim wins APL after 7-hour weather delay

GREENSBORO, N.C. – It was a long and grueling day. It took just over 14 hours from start to finish – a finish that came in near-darkness.

But it was a day Lion Kim will always remember – the day when he became a USGA champion.

Kim, a rising senior at Michigan, defeated David McDaniel, of Tucson, Ariz., 6 and 5 in the weather-plagued 36-hole final match Saturday to win the 85th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Bryan Park’s Champions Course.

Kim, who was born in South Korea but moved to New Jersey with his parents when he was just months old, was 2 up after 12 holes when play was stopped due to dangerous weather conditions. Some seven hours later, the match resumed.

And when the longest day of his young golfing career finally ended, 21-year-old Kim was the one holding the James Standish Jr. championship trophy and he will be the one who can expect to get that invitation in the mail in December to play in next year’s Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

“It’s just an amazing feeling,” a tired Kim said afterwards. “This is definitely my biggest golfing moment for me. But it’s also very humbling when I look at the trophy and see all those great names on it and knowing now my name will be there with them.”

For McDaniel, it was a tough way to end what otherwise was a most memorable week.

“Throughout the week it was kind of like living in a dream, but it turned into a nightmare at the end,” 25-year-old McDaniel said. “Things just didn’t pan out in the end. Overall it was a good week, but it’s certainly disappointing to come so close and not be able to pull it through at the end.”

And now, Kim has that date with the Masters the first full week of April in 2011.

“To play in the Masters is a dream come true,” he said. “Every little kid who plays golf dreams of playing the Masters. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to play in that great tournament, and to be able to represent my school in any way is an honor.”

With the victory, Kim becomes the first Asian-born player to win this championship for public-course players and the first foreign-born champion since South Africa’s Trevor Immelman in 1998.

The final-match marathon finally ended when Kim sank an 8-foot par putt to halve the 31st hole (the 472-yard, par-4 13th) and close things out after McDaniel made an impressive up and down. Good thing, too, as not one more shot would have been hit. In fact, even standing around the green, most could not even see the putt actually drop in the hole, including Kim and McDaniel.

“I was standing on the green and never really saw it,” McDaniel said. “But I heard it (fall into the hole).”

Said Kim, “All I could see was the ball. I didn’t really see the hole. My putter is black, and it was so dark I couldn’t even see it.”

When the putt did fall, Kim went over and gave his mom, Hyun, a big hug. His dad, Yong, was not present, missing the week due to conflicts with his business in New Jersey. Not including college events, Yong has attended every junior and amateur tournament his son has played.

“I haven’t talked with my dad yet (since finishing), but I’ll call him very soon,” Kim said. “I talked to him last night and he cried (knowing his son was in the final). It’s been a tough road at times for me and my dad golf-wise. We’ve had our ups and downs and don’t always agree on things.

“But he’s an amazing dad, and he’s the reason why I’m here. The love and support he’s given me – and my mom, too – has always been great.”

The 36-hole championship match got under way as planned at 7 a.m. under clear and sunny skies. But the rain, thunder and lightning moved in. Just after both finalists hit their tee shots on the 13th hole, the horn sounded at 9:43 a.m. to stop play due to dangerous weather conditions.

From then on, it was a waiting game, as one storm cell moved out only for another to move right in. Finally, at 4:10 p.m., Kim and McDaniel were allowed to warm up on the practice range and resumed the match at 4:51 p.m. under cloudy skies and in a light drizzle.

The course absorbed just over an inch and a half of rain and conditions were very wet and soggy as Kim and McDaniel, who plays in tennis shoes, returned to the 13th fairway to pick up where they left off just over seven hours beforehand.

Before the stoppage of play, McDaniel, the 2009 Arizona Amateur and 2010 Arizona Public Links champion, won the first hole with a par. It would be the only time he would have the lead.

And it was short-lived as Kim, an honorable mention All-American in 2009, quickly squared things with a par at No. 2.

Kim went 1 up with a birdie at the fourth and 2 up with a birdie at the 10th. Both birdied the par-5 11th and made par at 12 before the weather brought things to a sudden halt.

“Once we got back out there, I just never could get comfortable,” McDaniel said. “Then my putter went ice cold, so that didn’t help matters. And Lion played some great golf on top of that.”

When they finally returned, Kim won the 13th with a bogey and the par-3 14th with a birdie to go 4 up, a lead he maintained through what originally was the “morning” 18 holes.

The two went right to No. 1 to start the final 18 holes. Kim won the first two with pars to go 6 up and made it 7 up with a par at the 24th (No. 6).

The two matched pars over the next five holes, leaving Kim 7 up with seven to play. McDaniel kept alive, winning just his second hole in the match with a par at the 30th, only to have Kim come back and clinch the crown one hole later with his clutch par putt in the dark.


Results from the U.S. Amateur Public Links, played July 12-17 at Bryan Park’s Champions Course in Greensboro, N.C.:

FINAL

Lion Kim def. David McDaniel, 6 and 5

• • •

SEMIFINALS

Lion Kim def. Kevin Phelan, 1 up

David McDaniel def. Josh Anderson, 1 up

• • •

QUARTERFINALS

Kevin Phelan def. Wesley Graham, 21 holes

Lion Kim def. Chris Williams, 1 up

David McDaniel def. Harris English, 19 holes

Josh Anderson def. Darren Wallace, 19 holes

• • •

ROUND OF 16

Garrett Rank def. Wesley Graham, 2 up

Kevin Phelan def. Kyle Souza, 2 and 1

Chris Williams def. Bhavik Patel, 1 up

Lion Kim def. Chase Wright, 2 and 1

Harris English def. Derek Ernst, 1 up

David McDaniel def. Robert Butler, 19 holes

Darren Wallace def. Patrick Reed, 1 up

Josh Anderson def. Chris Igawa, 3 and 2

• • •

ROUND OF 32

Wesley Graham def. John-Tyler Griffin, 1 up

Garrett Rank def. Brent Martin, 2 and 1

Kevin Phelan def. Griffin Wood, 19 holes

Kyle Souza def. Tim Sheppard, 4 and 3

Bhavik Patel def. Sang Yi, 1 up

Chris Williams def. Scott Langley, 20 holes

Chase Wright def. Andrew Yun, 3 and 2

Lion Kim def. Joon Heui Lee, 1 up

Derek Ernst def. Anton Arboleda, 2 and 1

Harris English def. Jonathan McCurry, 7 and 5

David McDaniel def. Mario Clemens, 2 and 1

Robert Butler def. Wesley Bryan, 1 up

Patrick Reed def. Alex Edfort, 3 and 2

Darren Wallace def. Jim Liu, 20 holes

Chris Igawa def. Chase Wilson, 4 and 3

Josh Anderson def. Josh Brock, 3 and 2

• • •

ROUND OF 64

John-Tyler Griffin def. Andrew Perez, 1 up

Wesley Graham def. Andrew Lawson, 4 and 3

Garrett Rank def. Cody Paladino, 5 and 4

Brent Martin def. Thomas Welk, 3 and 2

Griffin Wood def. Riley Arp, 2 and 1

Kevin Phelan def. Jay Hwang, 4 and 3

Kyle Souza def. Justin Lower, 5 and 3

Tim Sheppard def. Mark Knecht, 4 and 3

Bhavik Patel def. Eric Hsu, 3 and 2

Sang Yi def. Andrew Bryant, 4 an d3

Scott Langley def. Greg Condon, 2 and 1

Andrew Yun def. Ricky Jones, 6 and 5

Chase Wright def. Sean Knapp, 1 up

Joon Heui Lee def. Jon Veneziano, 2 and 1

Lion Kim def. Ross Canavan, 6 and 5

Derek Ernst def. Clayton Rotz, 2 and 1

Anton Arboleda def. Taylor Travis, 1 up

Harris English def. Rob Simmons, 6 and 4

Jonathan McCurry def. Nick Taylor, 4 and 2

Mario Clemens def. Zachary Blair, 4 and 3

David McDaniel def. Carlos Ortiz, 1 up

Robert Butler def. David Watkins, 4 and 2

Wesley Bryan def. Cameron Peck, 1 up

Patrick Reed def. Travis Graham, 7 and 6

Alex Edfort def. Garren Poirier, 20 holes

Darren Wallace def. Tevis Upton, 2 and 1

Jim Liu def. Colby Shrum, 3 and 2

Chris Igawa def. George Bryan, 2 and 1

Chase Wilson def. Andrew Vijarro, 3 and 2

Josh Brock def. Tim Fisher, DQ

Josh Anderson def. John Hahn, 2 and 1

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