Seasoned Chung advances to U.S. Am final
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Even though a lot has changed for David Chung in the past six years, he finds himself in a familiar place: The final at a U.S. Golf Association event.
Chung will face Peter Uihlein in Sunday’s final at the U.S. Amateur. Chung also was a finalist at the 2004 U.S. Junior. He lost that match to current Stanford teammate Sihwan Kim, 1 down.
U.S. Amateur (Semifinals)
Images from the semifinals at the U.S. Amateur, played Saturday Aug. 28 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Chung was just 14 years old when he made it to the final at Olympic Club. At 5-foot-4 and 105 pounds, he could barely poke the ball 240 yards off the tee.
“I saw all these kids, 18-, 17-year-olds, 5 inches taller than me, hitting it 50 yards past me,” Chung said. “I was in awe back then of everybody, so to make it to match play was pretty good, and to make it (to the final) was surreal.”
His appearance in the last match at this U.S. Amateur is hardly a surprise, though.
Chung has been the most successful amateur player of this summer, winning both the Porter Cup and Western Amateur. Chung relied on strong putting to navigate the match-play bracket at Olympic Club in ’04.
He’s become an impressive ballstriker under the tutelage of noted instructor Adam Schriber, who also teaches Anthony Kim. In the final match at this year’s Western Amateur, Chung missed just two greens and two fairways on a tight Skokie Country Club layout.
“He’s steady, he putts well, and he keeps the ball in front of him,” Uihlein said. “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Uihlein will be no easy opponent in what should be one of the strongest final matches in recent history. Four of the past five U.S. Amateur finals have been decided by at least a 4-up margin.
Uihlein has won two prestigious titles in Washington state in the past year – the Ping/Golfweek Invitational at Gold Mountain and the Sahalee Players Invitational at The Home Course. He was a first-team All-American at Oklahoma State and a member of last year’s U.S. Walker Cup team.
“I know he’s a great putter,” Chung said. “He hits it far and scores as well as anyone. I expect him to play well.”
Chung and Uihlein likely will both represent the United States in Argentina at this year’s World Amateur Team Championship in October.
Uihlein will be looking to even his match-play record against Chung, who’s won two of the pair’s three meetings.
Chung beat Uihlein, 1 up, in the first round of team match play at this year’s NCAA Championship. Chung also beat Uihlein in 21 holes in the third round of the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur. Uihlein beat Chung, 2 and 1, in the first round of the 2005 Polo Golf Junior Classic.
Neither player will be able to rest easy with an early lead in Sunday’s final. Both players have had to come from behind in four of their five matches this week. Three times, Uihlein has trailed on the eighth hole or later. Chung was 3 down to defending champion Byeong-Hun An in the semifinals, but still won.
Chung is an especially difficult match-play opponent. He made the 2004 U.S. Junior final, the semis at the 2005 U.S. Junior and has won two prestigious match-play titles – the Western Amateur and North & South Amateur. Chung also went 4-0 at this year’s Palmer Cup at Royal Portrush, an experience that taught him how to navigate links-style layouts like Chambers Bay.
“(Match play) gets your blood going, it’s more intense,” Chung replied when asked why he’s had success in the format. “It makes me focus a bit more. There’s much more riding on every shot you hit.”
That will be especially true tomorrow, in what should be a tight match between two of the top players in the amateur game.