Byeong-Hun An 17 advances to US Amateur semis

By Associated PressAugust 28, 2009, 4:00 pm
USGATULSA, Okla. ' Mention Y.E. Yang prevailing at the PGA Championship and Byeong-Hun Ans eyes light up.
After one historic win for a South Korean this summer, why not follow it up with one of his own at the U.S. Amateur?
After a 21-hole victory against Stanford junior Steve Ziegler in the quarterfinals on Friday, An stands two wins away from making history. The 17-year-old who goes by Ben can become both the youngest player to take the U.S. Amateur title and the first Asian-born player to do so.
I never thought about that, An said. I didnt know I could make it this far, because I was playing bad before. It would be great to win, but there are a lot of good players out there. It would be awesome if I win, but Im happy winning tomorrows match to get in the Masters.
Ans opponent on Saturday will be Fresno State sophomore Bhavik Patel, who defeated Clemson senior Phillip Mollica 1 up.
Texas senior Charlie Holland defeated Oklahoma State sophomore Peter Uihlein in 19 holes to reach the other semifinal against fourth-seeded Ben Martin, who finished his college career at Clemson last year. Martin beat Arkansas senior David Lingmerth 2 and 1.
An squandered a 3-up lead on the back nine, bogeying the 17th and 18th holes to let Ziegler force a playoff. It was the second straight day that Ziegler was 2 down as he arrived at the 17th hole, only to win the last two holes.
An prevailed when Ziegler missed the green with his second shot at No. 3 and An followed by leaving his right in the middle of the green. When Ziegler missed a long par putt, he flipped his putter into the air and swatted at it before removing his cap to shake Ans hand.
Im pretty happy obviously because its quite an accomplishment to get this far in the tournament, said Ziegler, who will be exempt at next years event by reaching the quarterfinals. There are a lot of guys who went home unhappy a lot earlier. But then again, its a lot of mixed emotions because I know I had a chance to do something pretty special.
An said he watched Yangs PGA Championship victory, going back and forth between being convinced Yang would win after he chipped in for eagle at No. 14 to feeling certain Woods would find some way to come back for the win. In the end, Yang became the first Asian-born player to win a major.
There have been only 10 foreign-born winners in the 108 U.S. Amateurs. Three have come from Scotland, two from Canada and Australia, and one apiece from England, Italy and New Zealand. Just last year, Danny Lee '18 years and one month old at the time ' broke Tiger Woods record to become the youngest champion.
An doesnt turn 18 until Sept. 17.
Im not really used to big tournaments and a lot of big names, but I dont think I feel intimidated before I go off, An said. I just play my best.
Sports success runs in his family. Ans father, his caddie this week, and mother both won Olympic medals in table tennis in the 1988 Seoul Games. Not quite a decade later, An was 6 and following his dad around at the driving range when he tried golf.
I guess I had nothing to do that day other than just hit some shots, An said. I think my dad liked it. He liked my swing.
He started playing tournaments at age 7' I wasnt that good, he admits ' and developed enough that 3 1/2 years ago, he and his father moved to Florida to take advantage of the top-notch golf facilities. He was the runner-up at this years American Junior Golf Association Rolex Tournament of Champions and a quarterfinalist at the Western Amateur before qualifying for the U.S. Amateur earlier this month.
If not for the tournament, hed be in school this week at Bradenton Preparatory Academy ' and hes got another tournament next week.
Im missing the first two weeks of school. Pretty bad, he said.
An conceded that he was impressed when he looked around at the range earlier this week and saw top-ranked amateurs like Rickie Fowler and Morgan Hoffman. Now, hes outlasted both ' and just about everyone else, too.
I dont have to feel different than them. Were the same golfers, An said. Theyre better players than me, but we all qualified for this tournament, so I think we all have the same golf ability.
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.