UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Byeong-Hun An wouldn’t use the word pressure to describe his status as the defending champion at the U.S. Amateur. But he quickly admits, “Every morning I’m really nervous starting out.”
Those nerves certainly haven’t been noticeable through two rounds of match play at Chambers Bay.
Looking to become the first player to win back-to-back U.S. Amateur titles since Tiger Woods won three in a row from 1994 to ’96, An won his first-round match against David Dannelly on Wednesday, 3 and 2, and came back Thursday with an equally impressive 4-and-3 triumph over Alex Shi Yup Kim.
That sent An, an incoming freshman at California, into Thursday afternoon’s Sweet 16 round, where he will face Scott Strohmeyer, a junior at Alabama.
“After the first few holes, I calm down a little and play better and better,” said An, who, at 17, became the youngest-ever U.S. Amateur champion last year at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. “Today I was hitting it straight and where I wanted it to go. And, I made some important putts.”
An jumped out to a 3-up lead after five holes and he was 2 up after. Kim, a junior at UCLA, won the ninth.
“That stretch of 10, 11 and 12 was big,” An said. “At 10, I had a 6-foot downhill slider for birdie and made it, and at 11, I hit my approach shot way right, but it caught the slope and rolled down to 4 feet, and I made that to go 4 up. At 12, Alex missed an 8-foot eagle putt and I was able to halve the hole.”
An closed out the match at the par-3 15th when his tee shot came to rest an inch from the hole for a conceded birdie, which then made Kim’s 15-foot birdie good.
In other Round of 32 matches:
Brad Benjamin def. Amory Davis, 3 and 2: Benjamin, the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links and Illinois Open winner, won holes 4, 5 and 6 to go 3 up, and then won 9 and 10 to go 5 up. Davis, the 64th and last qualifier for match play who defeated medalist Jeff Wilson the previous day, made a run by winning holes 11, 13 and 14. But Benjamin won 15 and they halved 16.
“I played well the first 10 holes and then made it more interesting than it needed to be the rest of the way,” said Benjamin, a 2009 Memphis graduate. “I played well at the start of the summer, then kind of tailed off a little, but I definitely feel I’m playing better this week, which is nice.”
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David Chung def. Skip Berkmeyer, 4 and 3: Chung, a junior at Stanford, kept his impressive summer going and in the process eliminated the lone mid-amateur left in the field. Chung, who won the Porter Cup and Western Amateur earlier this summer, was 4 up after eight holes and never really challenged.
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Ryan McCarthy def. Brent Martin, 3 and 2: Playing in his first USGA event, McCarthy, 21, of Australia, was 2 up after the first two holes and was 3 up after eight. Martin, a senior at Winthrop University, won the ninth, but McCarthy won 10 and 13 to go 4 up and move on to victory.
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Scott Langley def. Patrick Reed, 19 holes: It was only fitting that this match went extra holes as it pitted two of this year’s NCAA Division I Championship stalwarts against each other. Langley, a senior at Illinois, won the individual college crown, while Reed went 3-0-0 in match play to lead Augusta State to its first NCAA team title. Reed won the par-4 first hole with a 6 to Langley’s 8, then birdied two for a 2-up lead. Langley won holes 13, 14 and 15 to go 1 up, but Reed squared it on 16. Langley went back on top with a par at 17, only to have Reed answer with a birdie at 18. At the first extra hole (No. 1), Langley won with a par to Reed’s triple bogey.
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Max Homa def. Carter Newman, 7 and 6: Homa, a sophomore at California, was in control from the start, going 3 up after four holes and 5 up after eight. He then won 10 with a par and 12 with a birdie.
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Harris English def. Eugene Wong, 2 and 1: English, a second-team All-American as a junior at Georgia last season, was 3 up after seven. Wong, a junior at Oregon who was the GCAA’s Jack Nicklaus Award winner as the College Player of the Year, won 13, but English, a quarterfinalist at this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links, won 15. Wong won 16, and the match ended when they halved 17 with bogeys.
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Scott Strohmeyer def. Justin Thomas, 19 holes: Strohmeyer, a junior at Alabama, jumped out of the starting gate and after birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 was 4 up. Thomas, a high school senior from Goshen, Ky., surged back and won holes 10, 13, 15 and 16 to square the match. Strohmeyer won the 17th, but Thomas took the 18th to extend the match. Strohmeyer notched the win with a par on the first extra hole.
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Patrick Cantlay def. Blayne Barber, 3 and 2: Cantlay, who will be a freshman at UCLA, broke an all-square deadlock with a par at No. 9, then won 11 and 15 with pars.
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Connor Arendell def. Chan Kim, 6 and 5: Arendell, a junior at Central Florida, was 1 up through seven, then surged, winning No. 8 with a birdie, 10 with a par, 11 and 12 with birdies and 13 with a par.
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Joseph Bramlett def. Tyler Sheppard, 1 up: Bramlett, a recent Stanford graduate who helped lead the Cardinal to the 2007 NCAA title, was 2 up after nine holes. Sheppard, a senior at Abilene Christian, won 10, 11 and 12 to go 1 up. Bramlett, who won this year’s Northeast Amateur, then won 16 with a par and the match with a birdie at 18.
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Jed Dirksen def. Hudson Swafford, 2 and 1: Swafford, a senior at Georgia, was 2 up after three, but Dirksen, a junior at Iowa, won Nos. 5 and 6 to even things up. Swafford went back to 2 up, winning Nos. 7 and 8, only to have Dirksen charge back and win 14 and 15 to square the match, then take 16 and 17 to win it.
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Alex Ching def. Patrick Rodgers, 3 and 1: Ching, a junior at San Diego, was 4 up after five holes, but Rodgers, a high school senior in Avon, Ind., cut it to one, winning 13 and 14 with bogeys and 15 with a par. Ching then won 16 and 17 with pars.
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Morgan Hoffmann def. Richard Werenski, 6 and 4: Hoffmann, a junior at Oklahoma State and 2009 U.S. Walker Cup member, was in control from the start. He was 4 up through seven before Werenski, a freshman at Georgia Tech, won No. 8. Hoffmann then won four of five holes from 10 to 14 to close it out.
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Peter Uihlein def. Emiliano Grillo, 2 up: Uihlein, a 2009 U.S. Walker Cupper and junior at Oklahoma State, was 2 up after seven, but Grillo, a 17-year-old from Argentina, won Nos. 8 and 9 and the two remained all square through 13. Uihlien won 14 and 15 with pars, and Grillo won 16 with a birdie. Uihlein closed it out with a birdie to win 18.
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John Hahn def. Arnond Vongvanij, 5 and 4: Hahn, a senior at Kent State and the 2009 Western Amateur champion, won five consecutive holes (7-11), three with birdies, to go 5 up as he cruised to victory.
Results from the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur, played Aug. 26 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.:
ROUND OF 32
Brad Benjamin def. Amory Davis, 3 and 2
David Chung def. Skip Berkmeyer, 4 and 3
Ryan McCarthy def. Brent Martin, 3 and 2
Scott Langley def. Patrick Reed, 19 holes
Max Homa def. Carter Newman, 7 and 6
Harris English def. Eugene Wong, 2 and 1
Scott Strohmeyer def. Justin Thomas, 19 holes
Byeong-Hun An def. Alex Shi Yup Kim, 4 and 3
Patrick Cantlay def. Blayne Barber, 3 and 2
Connor Arendell def. Chan Kim, 6 and 5
Joseph Bramlett def. Tyler Sheppard, 1 up
Jed Dirksen def. Hudson Swafford, 2 and 1
Alex Ching def. Patrick Rodgers, 3 and 1
Morgan Hoffmann def. Richard Werenski, 6 and 4
Peter Uihlein def. Emiliano Grillo, 2 up
John Hahn def. Arnond Vongvanij, 5 and 4
ROUND OF 64
Amory Davis def. Jeff Wilson, 3 and 1
Brad Benjamin def. Tommy McDonagh, 6 and 5
David Chung def. Mike McCoy, 3 and 2
Skip Berkmeyer def. Conrad Shindler, 2 up
Ryan McCarthy def. Daniel Bowden, 5 and 4
Brent Martin def. Drew Kittleson, 19 holes
Scott Langley def. Tim Jackson, 19 holes
Patrick Reed def. Daniel Zuluaga, 2 and 1
Carter Newman def. Andres Echavarria, 2 and 1
Max Homa def. T.J. Bordeaux, 2 and 1
Eugene Wong def. Joe Saladino, 19 holes
Harris English def. Jarred Bossio, 2 and 1
Justin Thomas def. Robert Leopold, 6 and 5
Scott Strohmeyer def. Cameron Peck, 2 and 1
Alex Shi Yup Kim def. Todd White, 1 up
Byeong-Hun An def. David Dannelly, 3 and 2
Patrick Cantlay def. Brad Shaw, 2 and 1
Blayne Barber def. Kevin Tway, 1 up
Connor Arendell def. Eric Steger, 2 up
Chan Kim def. Nick Taylor, 4 and 2
Joseph Bramlett def. Mike Miller, 4 and 3
Tyler Sheppard def. Scott Harvey, 4 and 2
Hudson Swafford def. Harry Rudolph III, 19 holes
Jed Dirksen def. Michael Morrison, 6 and 5
Patrick Rodgers def. Ricky Stout, 3 and 2
Alex Ching def. Denny McCarthy, 2 and 1
Morgan Hoffmann def. Albin Choi, 2 up
Richard Werenski def. Gunner Wiebe, 2 and 1
Emiliano Grillo def. Eric Chun, 4 and 2
Peter Uihlein def. Cheng Tsung Pan, 2 and 1
Arnond Vongvanij def. Nick MacDonald, 19 holes
John Hahn def. Andrea Pavan, 2 and 1