NEWTON, Kansas (AP) — Byron Meth beat Doug Ghim in the first playoff hole after blowing a three-hole lead down the stretch to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links championship on Saturday.
Meth, a senior at University of Pacific, evened the match on the 36th hole of regulation at Sand Creek Station Golf course when 18-year-old Ghim, who is heading to the University of Texas, made double bogey.
Ghim had taken the lead with an eagle on the 35th hole.
Playing the par-5 10th in the playoff, both found the fairway off the tee. Ghim then hit into tall grass around a water hazard. He punched and took a bogey. Meth hit the green in regulation and two-putted for the win.
“It really worked out for me today because without that mental edge, I don’t know if I could have done it,” Meth said. “But staying in there mentally, I was able to get it done.”
The match was all square after the opening 18. Early in the afternoon round, Meth took a 3-hole lead on the 26th hole after Ghim had trouble making a few par putts. Ghim, who trailed by three in his semifinal match as well, responded by driving just left of the short, par-4 ninth and immediately cut Meth’s lead to two.
On the back nine, Ghim won hole 28 and followed with wins on holes 30 and 31 to take a one-hole lead.
After Meth evened up the match on the 32nd hole, Ghim drove the next green, a 353-yard par 4.
“I had just lost a hole, so I said why not,” Ghim said. “Felt good about the shot. The wind was in a favorable direction for my draw.”
Ghim sunk his 25-foot eagle look to take a one-hole lead. Both birdied and pared the next two holes and Ghim entered the 36th with a chance for the win.
However, Ghim blocked his drive right out of bounce, leading to a double bogey that kept Meth’s chances alive.
When Meth found out the 10th would be the sudden-death hole, he wasn’t exactly pleased because he picked up to concede the hole in the morning and bogeyed it in the afternoon.
“I wasn’t happy when it was coming to 10,” Meth said with a laugh. “But I knew I had it in me. I’ve birdied it three times this week in competition. So, I knew I could do it.”
Although it is a rough lump to swallow, Ghim, who will play for the Texas Longhorns this fall, tipped his hat to Meth and learned a lot.
“This kind of format, it’s survival of the fittest, who’s mentally stronger,” Ghim said. “It turned out was Byron was mentally stronger. Again, it is going to be a good learning experience. Never had a tournament where so much was on the line. When the next opportunity comes, whenever that may be, I’ll be ready.”