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Yang beats Conners in US Amateur final

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm •  Published: August 17, 2014
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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) — Not long ago, Gunn Yang's game was such a mess that his college coach took away his scholarship.

Might want to reconsider that decision.

The 20-year-old South Korean never trailed while completing an improbable run to the U.S. Amateur title Sunday, beating Canada's Corey Conners 2 and 1 at Atlanta Athletic Club.

"I had not won a tournament in a long time, maybe like five or six years," Yang said.

At No. 776, he became the lowest-ranked player in the world amateur standings to capture the country's biggest title for non-professional golfers. Along the way, he beat five players inside the top 100, including the 44th-ranked Conners.

Yang, who lived in Australia for five years and now plays at San Diego State, pushed his lead to 2 up with four to play by rolling in an 18-foot birdie putt at No. 14. He closed out the match with a tap-in par at No. 17, the 35th hole of the grueling day.

The afternoon round was halted by a rain delay of 1 hour, 37 minutes.

"I had never heard of him before," Conners said. "He obviously had a great week."

Indeed, Yang was one of the most unlikely champions in the history of the 119-year-old event. A redshirt sophomore, he has played in just four college events, his career sidetracked by a herniated disk that required laser surgery. Just three weeks ago, he withdrew from the California State Open after playing the first nine holes at 6 over.

Now, at the home club of Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur of them all, Yang hoisted the Havemeyer Trophy.

Does he think he'll get that scholarship back, too?

"Better," Yang said, breaking into a big smile, "or else I'm going to transfer."

Conners had a chance to push the match to the limit with a 15-foot birdie attempt at No. 17. It slid by the right side of the cup.

Yang, whose 18-footer to win the match caught the right lip and spun out, knocked in what was nothing more than a gimme par to wrap up the title. He pumped his fist, hugged his caddie and let out a scream.

"He didn't really have any weaknesses out there," Conners said. "He didn't give me any openings to climb through."

The loss came one week after another Canadian, 16-year-old Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, was beaten in the final of the U.S. Women's Amateur.

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