2006: Finally, UNLV’s Han second to none
On the eve of the final round at this year’s Porter Cup, co-leader Seung-su Han was asked about the last time he won a tournament. He thought awhile.
“You know, I’ve won some qualifying things, but as far as a tournament, I can’t remember,” he said. “So I guess it’s been a few years.”
Han, 19, a sophomore at UNLV, no longer will have to think long and hard about his last tournament victory. Not after the way he played for four days at Niagara Falls Country Club.
Han donned the traditional Porter Cup champion’s green blazer July 29, shortly after he sank his final par putt on the 18th green for his third consecutive 2-under-par 68. He opened with 66.
With his 10-under-par 270, Han posted atwo-stroke victory over Canada’s Andrew Parr, a recent Texas A&M graduate, and Skip Berkmeyer Jr., a 32-year-old from St. Louis. Next at 3-under 277 were Jon McLean, a sophomore at TCU, Mike McCoy, a semifinalist at last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, and Gene Elliott, the 1998 Porter Cup champion.
“This (win) is very special,” said Han, who tied for second at the Sunnehanna Amateur earlier this summer. “I’ve worked hard to get to this. It seems I’ve had a lot of second-place finishes in tournaments so to finally break through, and in a big tournament like this against some of the best players around, is very pleasing. It sure has been a long time coming.”
Berkmeyer, whose competitive golf is pretty much limited to Missouri, shared the lead with Han at 8 under going into the final round. After making the turn in 3-under 32, he held a three-stroke lead. Three bogeys on the back side led to an even-par 70, but still gave him his best finish in a national tournament.
“One on hand I’m disappointed because I had a chance to win,” said Berkmeyer, who is co-owner, with his father, of an awards/trophy company in St. Louis. “On the other hand, I had a great week and I tied for second in a major amateur tournament. I’ve never been in this position (co-leader going into the final round) against this kind of field, so I’m pleased with the way I handled myself.”
Finishing at 7-under 273 were Colt Knost, a senior at SMU who had the day’s best round of 4-under 66, and Gary Woodland, a senior at Kansas, who closed with 67.
For Han, it was a week in which he made birdies from off the green and two from greenside bunkers. It was a week where, at times, he had some wild shots, but always managed to regain control.
“I didn’t hit the ball all that great this week, but I was able to get up-and-down, stay calm, and find a way to get it done,” said Han, the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. “There were times when I got lucky, but there were also times when I hit some pretty good shots and I made a lot of putts.
“Right now it feels like everything, all the work I’ve done, has paid off.”