In a 36-hole match featuring great play from both participants, 19-year-old Jordan Niebrugge held on for a 1-up win over Michael Kim in the final of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, earning an invite to the 2014 Masters in the process.
While the 20-year-old Kim – who received the Nicklaus Award as the best player in NCAA Division I golf this season while at Cal and was the low amateur at last month's U.S. Open – was perceived as the favorite heading into the final, it was Niebrugge that built a 1-up advantage after the morning round. That lead grew to 4-up after 26 holes, as Niebrugge, who will be a sophomore this fall at Oklahoma State, birdied two of the first four holes of the afternoon session at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Va.
Kim went on to stage a back-nine comeback, trimming Niebrugge's lead to 1-up with just five holes to play. He would get no closer, though, as each of the final five holes were halved, including matching birdies on the par-5 15th, to secure the narrow margin of victory for the 19-year-old from Mequon, Wis.
The match was marked by great play throughout, as the two competitors combined to shoot 9 under across the 36-hole final. Niebrugge was just slightly better than Kim, though, making only a single bogey during the two rounds Saturday, and as a result he will be the one taking a trip down Magnolia Lane next spring should he retain his amateur status.
First held in 1922, the Public Links is designed for amateur players with no ties to private clubs or courses requiring membership. Earlier this year, the USGA announced that the event would be discontinued; beginning in 2015, it will be replaced by a Four-Ball Championship that will feature two-man teams.