Story courtesy of KSU Sports Information
LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Rising Kent State phenom John Hahn (Hudson, Ohio / Hudson) claimed the prestigious 107th Western Amateur Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club on Saturday. The Kent State junior to be picked up the biggest win of his amateur career thus far by posting a 3-and-2 victory in the match-play championship.
Having struggled earlier in his career during match-play, Hahn was exceptional in the championship win over Illinois' Zach Barlow and never trailed after the opening hole. After, Barlow won the first hole with a bogey, Hahn won four holes in a row starting at No. 3 with to go 3-up.
The margin was cut to 2-up with a par at the 11th, but Hahn won the next two holes with pars to go 4-up. Barlow kept battling and sank a 10-foot birdie putt to win the par-5 14th and kept the match alive with a pressure-filled 3-footer to save par at the 15th. At the 16th, Hahn rolled his 25-foot birdie try to 2 1/2 feet and after Barlow missed his 12-foot birdie putt, Hahn tapped in for the victory.
"For some reason, match play has always been tough for me," Hahn said in a post-match interview with Golfweek's Ron Balicki. "Maybe that was because I doubted myself. But this week I was confident from start to finish. What a great time to end that match-play jinx."
After shooting a two-over, 286 (74-72-67-73) in stroke play Hahn won a playoff with Adam Long of Duke just to advance to the 16-man match-play bracket. The Hudson, Ohio native moved on with a par on the first playoff hole (par-4 10th) as Long, hit his approach shot into a water hazard and made double bogey.
Hahn defeated stroke-play champion Chen-Tsung Pan 1-up in the first round of match-play, then dispatched of Byeong-Hun An 5-and-3 in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals had him matched up against Bud Cauley of Alabama, who Hahn tied for third with at the 2009 NCAA Central Regional this past May. Kent State's shining star came through and never trailed in a 2-and-1 victory over the Crimson Tide All-American. Hahn went 1-up with a par at the fourth hole, but Cauley, winner this summer of the Players Amateur, squared the match with a birdie at No. 8. Hahn took the lead for good with birdies at 14 and 15 and closed the door when he matched Cauley's par at the 17th.
He joins an impressive honor roll of champions that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Chirs DiMarco and Francis Ouimet, Hahn becomes the first player from Ohio to win the Western Amateur since Craig Kanada in 1990 and Tom Weiskopf in 1963.
"For me, this (victory) is probably similar to Ben winning the British Open," said Hahn in the Balicki interview. "I'm very proud to win this championship, especially because of the history behind it and all of the great players who have won it."