Redman downs Ghim to win U.S. Amateur

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The level of golf was astoundingly high, and kept getting better.

Until, for Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, the 37th hole of the 117th United States Amateur championship match.

The first extra hole after he and Doc Redman of Raleigh, North Carolina, found themselves tied after two trips around Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Then it unraveled for Ghim, and that allowed Redman to win the title.

“It’s awesome,” Redman said. “All the hard work paid off, obviously.”

The playoff hole was Riviera’s famed 10th, a 315-yard par-4 that tempts players to go for the green. Redman, with the honor after coming from two holes down on the final two holes with a stunning eagle-birdie punch to tie the match, hammered a hybrid just short of the green. Ghim pull-hooked his tee shot well to the left, behind a few trees and with no good way to plop a second shot on the green.

His attempt ran over and fell into the dreaded right-side bunker. From there, he found the back left bunker. From there, he ended up on the green, about 25 feet from the hole, with his fourth shot.

Redman, meanwhile, had chipped to about 10 feet. He never had to putt. When Ghim rolled his bogey attempt by, he conceded, ending on a sour note a match that at times stretched credulity given the amazing collection of shots and putts both Ghim and Redman offered the gallery.

Redman’s comeback, for instance. On the par-5 17th, the 35th hole of the match, needing to win the hole and the next or see Ghim walk off with the Havemeyer Trophy, Redman ran down a curling right-to-left downhill putt of about 45 feet for an eagle to win the hole.

On Riviera’s fabled 18th, Redman drilled his approach to about 10 feet and sank that for a birdie 3 after Ghim ran a long putt from the back of the green close. And it was off to the decisive hole.

When it did go in, it was like, ‘Wow, okay.’ ” Ghim said of Redman’s eagle from the general direction of Malibu. “That's quite a blow. I reminded myself that I was still 1-up with one to go. You know, my dad kept reminding me on the next hole that you are still winning. He might've just made the putt of his life, but you are still winning this and you have to make him go get it from you.
“I mean, I didn't hit a particularly great iron shot coming into 18, but I thought I did just that with the chip. I chipped it close enough. I felt confident enough – I had the same putt this morning for birdie.
“So I felt like I did everything that I could to force him to make incredible shots. He stepped up and did it, and kudos to him. I'm very happy for him.”
Ghim gave Redman equal measures of solid golf as well. He won the 31st and 34th holes to go 2 up in a match that was square or 1-up most of the way. (Ghim had won the first hole with a bogey, fell behind when Redman birdied the 13th, and trailed by two holes for only two holes, when Redman birdied the 20th. But Ghim won the 22nd with a par 3, and squared the match with a birdie on the 29th. Twenty-six of the first 33 holes were halved.

“It felt like every time we won a hole it was so significant because we weren't giving each other anything – nothing was easy,” Ghim said. “Every hole that we won was super hard earned. It felt weird to even have a putt to win the hole. You're like, I don't know when the next time I'm going to actually have an opportunity like this. Felt like do or die every time you had a chance.

“It's just a testament to how good we played. Both of us were really smart about how we played and definitely let ourselves with areas we could get up and down and force the other guy to execute. For most the day we both stepped up and executed. Yeah, I think that's why you saw the match the way it was.”
Ghim scored 3-under 67 in the morning and 2-under 68 in the afternoon. Redman also had a morning 67 – all these scores come with the usual match-play concessions – and a 1-under 69 for the afternoon 18, but the 3-3 finish propelled him to the 37th hole, and thus another 3, to Ghim’s double-bogey 6.

Steve Elkington, who won the 1995 PGA Championship on the George Thomas layout, called it an “incredible finish. (N)obody finishes 3, 3 at Riv to force a playoff.”

There was little surprise when both players were named to the U.S. Walker Cup team for the match at Los Angeles Country Club next month.

Ghim was the first Illinoisan to reach the final since John Dawson, who was runner-up in 1947. The last Illinois resident to win was Chick Evans in 1920. The last Illinois native to win was Robert A. Gardner, who captured his second title in 1915.

It surely didn’t hurt the Clemson sophomore that 15 days earlier, he’d battled Norman Xiong for 22 holes in the championship match of the Western Amateur, only to see Xiong win it when his tee shot and approach on the fourth extra hole were wanting.

In that battle, Redman lipped out potentially winning putts on the 18th and 20th holes, and Xiong did so on the 19th.

This time, Redman sank the big putts on the final two holes of regulation, and needed only to chip to 10 feet. The next thing in his hands wasn’t a putter. It was the Havemeyer Trophy.

Tim Cronin

Look for a complete report on the U.S. Amateur in the September issue of Illinois Golfer.

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