Aug. 29, 2009
Clemson, SC– Clemson senior Ben Martin defeated Charlie Holland of Texas 5 & 4 on Saturday morning at Southern Hill Country Club in Tulsa, OK to advance to the championship match of the 2009 United States Amateur golf tournament.
Martin will play Byeon-Hun An of Korea, a 17-year old high school student at the Ledbetter Academy in Bradenton, FL in the 36-hole final on Sunday. The match will be televised by NBC Sports from 4-6 PM.
An is attempting to become the youngest US Amateur champion in history. Martin is attempting to become the first ACC golfer to win the US Amateur since Matt Kuchar of Georgia Tech in 1997. No Clemson golfer has won the tournament since 1989.
A victory on Sunday would also mean golfers with ties to Clemson would have won the US Open and the US Amateur in 2009. Lucas Glover, an All-American for Clemson between 1997-01, captured the United States Open this past June. The last time the same school had both the US Open and US Amateur Champions in the same year was 1992 when Texas golfer Justin Leonard won the US Amateur and Texas graduate Tom Kite won the US Open.
Saturday marked the easiest victory of the tournament for Martin, who has won five straight matches to reach Sunday’s 36-hole championship match after shooting a 141 in the stroke play qualifier, tied for the second best total in the field. Martin won his first two matches in extra holes, then the next two 2 &1 before closing out Holland with a birdie on the 14th hole on Saturday.
Saturday’s win likely will give Martin an invitation in the 2010 Masters. Official invitations won’t be distributed until the end of the year, but the two finalists in the US Amateur have received a Masters invitation for many years. Martin, a native of Greenwood, SC, is the first Clemson golfer to reach the US Amateur championship since Danny Ellis in 1993. Ellis lost in the finals that year to John Harris of Minnesota, but Ellis received an invitation to the Masters.
Martin will attempt to become just the second Clemson golfer to win the US Amateur. Chris Patton won the event at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA in 1989. Ironically, if Martin wins on Sunday he most likely will receive an invitation to play for the 2009 United States Walker Cup team. The Walker Cup matches will be held at Merion this year.
Martin hopes to continue Clemson’s tradition of playing well in the state of Oklahoma. Clemson finished third at the NCAA Tournament in Edmond, OK in 1989, its first final four at the NCAA Tournament, then won the 2003 National Championship at Oklahoma State.
Martin got off to a great start on Saturday when he won four of the first six holes to take a four-up lead. He had to make birdie on just one of those holes. The birdie came on the par five fifth hole when he made a 12-footer for birdie and Holland missed a 15-footer. Martin went five-up on the ninth hole when he made a par four and Holland made a five.
Holland started a comeback on the 10th hole when he made a tap-in birdie. But, Martin has been outstanding on the par three 11th hole all week and it continued on Saturday. He rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt, his fourth straight birdie on that hole in four matches to take a five-up lead. Holland won the 13th hole, but Martin made a birdie on the 14th hole to close out the match.
“His victory today created an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Clemson Head Coach Larry Penley. “Getting to play in the Masters is a lifetime dream for anyone, but especially for a kid from Greenwood, SC. I am very proud of him.
“I think he will play well in the championship. In some ways the pressure (of getting to the Masters) is off. He will be relaxed and just continue to play his game.”
“I played solid today,” said Martin, who was even par for his 14 holes on Saturday. “Charlie got off to a tough start and I was able to win some holes with solid pars. I have had the putter rolling pretty well this week. Making some putts in key spots has been the difference for me all week. I just hope I can keep it rolling on Sunday.”
“I have been going to the Masters since I was six or seven and I always dreamed of playing their some day, so today was certainly important. But, I want to bring that championship trophy back to Clemson.”
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