Clemson senior Ben Martin finished runner-up Sunday afternoon in the championship match of the U.S. Amateur at Southern Hills Country Club. Martin was defeated 7 & 5 by Byeong-Hun An, who at age 17 became the youngest winner in the history of the prestigious amateur event.
The 36-hole championship match brought a close to a grueling week for
Martin. It began on Monday, when the Greenwood, S.C. product fired an
opening round 73 during the first day of stroke play. He followed that
with a two-under par 68 in the second round, which positioned him as one
of the top seeded players for the match play portion of the championship.
Martin then won five matches to advance to the finals. He defeated Tyson
Alexander in 21 holes during his first match play event. In the second
round of match play, he knocked off Chris Ward of McKinney, Texas in 19
holes. He beat his third-round opponent, Nico Geyger of Chile, by a score
of 2 & 1. In the quarterfinals, Martin again won by a score of 2 & 1,
defeating David Lingmerth of Sweden. On Saturday, Martin put together his
best effort during the match play portion of the event and won 5 & 4
against Texas senior Charlie Holland in the semifinals.
Sunday's 36-hole finale proved to be a difficult day for Martin, a
two-time All-ACC performer. The morning session featured back and forth
action for the most part, with neither player owning more than a one-hole
advantage through the first 15 holes of the day. However, An won three of
the last four holes to take a three-up advantage into the final 18 holes.
Amazingly, Martin's last hole won in the morning round was the par three
14th hole. He hit his tee shot off the flagstick, and the ball bounced
directly right and into a greenside bunker. It was typical of Martin's
day, although An double bogeyed the hole to give Martin the improbable
Martin struggled in the second round Sunday afternoon. He bogeyed four of
the first five holes, which allowed An to take a five-up advantage. After
the two halved the sixth, Martin again suffered back-to-back bogeys and
fell another hole down against his opponent. Martin looked to have new
life on the ninth and 10th holes, as he made par and An bogeyed both. But
An came right back and birdied the 11th, burying a 15-footer that put the
pressure back on Martin. His birdie attempt just missed, putting the lead
back at five holes. Martin bogeyed the 12th and 13th and lost both holes,
which allowed An to secure the championship. Martin was eight-over par on
the 13 holes for the second round Sunday.
Due to his runner-up finish, Martin should now be eligible to play in both
the 2010 Masters and U.S. Open events. The champion and runner-up of the
U.S. Amateur are eligible for the following year's U.S. Open, provided
both players retain their amateur status. Martin played in the 2009 U.S.
Open at Bethpage Black and actually held a first-round lead at one point
before missing the cut.
Martin runner-up at U.S. Amateur
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