Listowel native extended invite to 2015 Masters, U.S. Open with terrific finish
BY DAN MCNEE
JOHNS CREEK, GEORGIA – It was an epic run for Corey Conners at the 114th edition of the U.S. Amateur Championship, but in the end no one could stop the most improbable winner in the prestigious tournament’s history.
South Korean born Gunn Yang, 20, capped off his brilliant week by topping Conners 2 and 1 in the finals of the amateur golfing circuit’s biggest stage on Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Yang was listed as No. 776 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings prior to the event, while Conners was ranked at No. 44.
After dispatching Oklahoma State sophomore Zachary Olsen 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals, Conners edged No. 36 Denny McCarthy by 1 up on the final hole of the semifinals on Saturday. It set up the 36-hole championship date with Yang, who beat No. 619 Fred Wedel in the other semifinal.
On the final hole of the first 18, Conners reduced Yang’s 2 up lead to just 1 after he birdied the par-5 and his opponent three-putted for par. Conners then brought the match to all-square on the first hole of the second 18, and the final remained tied until Hole #6 when Yang once again pulled ahead.
Conners was down 1 when a sudden downpour and thunderstorm halted the match for over an hour and a half. When play resumed, Yang re-established his 2 up lead and put the match away on the 17th by tapping in a par putt after Conners missed a 15-foot birdie attempt.
The two finalists were never further than 2 up from each other throughout the 35 holes played.
Conners, 22, was participating in his third U.S. Amateur, after finishing as a semifinalist in 2013 and a quarterfinalist in 2012. His runner-up finish this time around earned him an invitation to two PGA majors next year – the 2015 Masters in Augusta, Georgia, as well as the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.
Had Conners captured the Havemeyer Trophy on Sunday, he would have also received an invite to the 2015 Open Championship (British Open).