Hahn stays on track at Western Am

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – John Hahn keeps marching on at the 107th Western Amateur Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club.

Hahn, from Hudson, Ohio, and a junior at Kent State, was the last man standing in qualifying for the Sweet 16 and match play, gaining that final spot by beating Adam Long on the first hole of a playoff.

He made the most of it on a rainy Friday where play was suspended for two hours, 45 minutes, when a weather front moved through the area.

Hahn defeated Pan (pronounced Pon) and an An (On) in advancing to Saturday morning’s semi-final round.

The No. 16 seed started by overcoming a 3-down deficit to beat qualifying medalist Chen-Tsung Pan, 1 up, in the first round and followed with a 5-and-3 victory over Byeng-Hun (Bennie) An in the quarterfinals.

Hahn, the 2009 Mid-American Conference champion and player of the year, now faces a rematch with Alabama sophomore Bud Cauley in the semis. Cauley defeated Hahn in the first round at the 2006 U.S. Junior in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 3 and 2.

“John and I are good friends so it should be fun,” Cauley said. “And we’re both playing well so it should be a good match.”

Cauley, who won the Players Amateur this summer and was a second-team All-America as a freshman, birdied three of his last five holes to defeat Phillip Mollica, 2 up, in his opening match.

He then breezed past 31-year-old Nathan Smith, the only mid-amateur to make the Sweet 16, 5 and 3, in the quarterfinals. Cauley closed out the match on the 15th hole with a holed sand wedge from 90 yards for eagle.

“It wasn’t that Nathan played badly,” Cauley said. “I just came out and got pretty hot. After the rain delay the course was in perfect condition to make birdies and I was able to do that.

“I’ve been hitting my irons really well all week and that has been a huge help,” said Cauley.

Saturday’s other semifinal showdown pits Patrick Reed of Augusta, Ga., against in-state favorite Zach Barlow of Percy, Ill.

Reed, who will be a sophomore at Augusta State after transferring from Georgia, defeated Dylan Frittelli, a sophomore at Texas, 4 and 3, in the morning and followed with a 2-up win in the quarterfinals over Italy’s Andrea Pavan, a junior at Texas A&M.

Reed was 1 up after two holes in the afternoon when play was stopped. When it started again, he birdied the third hole and was 3 up after 10. Pavan came back and won Nos. 11, 14 and 15 with birdies to square the match, before Reed won 17 with a par and 18 with a birdie, knocking his 97-yard lob wedge approach shot to within a foot.

“It’s been a long, wet day and I’m glad it’s over, especially since I won both matches,” said Reed, who was a semifinalist last year at the U.S. Amateur and a quarterfinalist at this year’s North and South Amateur. “I felt good all day. I felt like I had complete control of my game.

“With the rain and the delay, I just told myself to remain patient and keep a good mental attitude,” Reed said. “I was able to do that.”

Barlow, a senior at Illinois, had the two most exciting matches of the day, winning both 1 up.

In the morning he was 3 up with three to play against Travis Woolf, a senior at TCU. But Woolf won 16 and 17 with pars and looked like he was going to send it to extra holes when he chipped in from 45 feet for birdie at 18. To halve the hole and win the match, Barlow sank his 40-foot birdie putt.

In the quarterfinals against Northeast Amateur champ Dan Woltman of Beaver Dam, Wis., Barlow was 2 down after nine. He won holes 10, 12 and 13 to go 1 up, but Woltman, a recent graduate at Wisconsin, squared the match with a birdie at 17.

At the par-5 finishing hole, Barlow knocked his 125-yard, third shot to eight feet. After Woltman just missed his 45 birdie putt, Barlow, on the same line as his morning putt, drained the match winner.

“It was a great match from start to finish,” said Barlow, who went to a cross-handed putting grip prior to his first match. “It was probably the greatest match I’ve ever played . . . make that two matches.

“At the start of the week I never really thought it would come to this, making the final four,” said Barlow, the 2008 Illinois State Amateur champion. “I know I have the game for it, but you just never know. I’ve been hitting my irons great all week and that’s been my savior. And today I putted extremely well.”

Hahn was three holes down after 11 in his match against Pan, 17, a native of Taiwan who has been living in Bradenton, Fla., the last two years. He won Nos. 12 ,14 and 15 with birdies to square the match and then won 17 with a par before both players halved 18.

Against An, 17, a native of Korea also now residing in Bradenton, Fla., Hahn was in control from the outset. He was 3 up after four holes and 4 up after six.

An came back and won Nos. 8 and 10, but Hahn won the 12th and 13th with pars and closed things out at 15 when he hit the fairway with his tee shot and An hit his tee shot into the water and conceded the hole.

“It was a great day,” said Hahn, who attends Kent State on the Ben Curtis (2003 British Open champion) Scholarship. “I was fortunate to get by in the morning and win. In the afternoon I just played solid from start to finish.”

When he finished 72 holes of stroke play on Thursday at 2 over he said, “I felt I was dead and had no chance. Then the scores started coming in a it looked like 2 over had a chance for a playoff.”

Still, Hahn wasn’t too keen about playoffs, based on his recent history.

Earlier this year at an NCAA Regional Championship, he was in a playoff with Clemson’s Kyle Stanley for the lone individual spot to advance to the NCAA finals and lost. In trying to qualify for this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship he was involved in a playoff for the final spot and lost on the third extra hole.

“It was such a relief to finally come out on top (in a playoff),” Hahn said. “So far I’m making the most of it and hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.”

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