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Youth Triumphs in U.S. Amateur

August 20, 1999

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Tied after 18, they were about to tee off on the first of five sudden-death holes when Bryce Molder turned to James Oh as an evening chill descended on the U.S. Amateur Championship.

With a quarterfinal spot on the line, Molder asked his opponent: ``Are you having fun yet?″ Oh responded with a grin.

Youth defeated experience in Thursday’s two rounds of match play, with two 17-year-olds and six college students reaching the quarterfinals. No player older than 22 survived the third round.

In the last and most dramatic match of the day, Oh made a 10-foot birdie putt on the fifth extra hole to defeat Molder _ who also had gone into overtime while winning his second-round match earlier Thursday.

Oh, 17, trailed Molder by two holes on the 15th. But he won that hole and evened the match on the 18th, sending the golfers back to the start of the course.

``It was a long day for me,″ Oh said. ``I wasn’t too nervous. I don’t really feel much pressure here because I’m here to learn. I’m still young.″

Molder, 20, a Georgia Tech junior who shot a career-best round of 60 recently with President Clinton in Arkansas, rallied from a three-hole deficit in Thursday’s second round to defeat Gary Mankulish Jr. on the third extra hole.

``Down the stretch, I got to the point I was almost not nervous out there,″ Molder said. ``I was having fun.″

Oh’s next opponent was to be another 17-year-old golfer. Sung Yoon Kim, a high school junior from Seoul, South Korea, reached the quarterfinals by rallying from a 3-stroke deficit to defeat Canada’s David Hearn.

Kim, at 17 years and 3 months, is 42 days younger than Oh. The youngest player to win the Amateur was Tiger Woods, who captured the first of three consecutive titles in 1994 at 18.

``My goal was to get into the final eight,″ Kim said through an interpreter. ``If I do anything beyond this, I’ll be really excited.″

Joining Oh and Kim in the quarterfinals today were James Driscoll, 21, a senior at Virginia; David Gossett, 20, a sophomore at Texas; Ben Curtis, 22, a senior at Kent State; Andrew Sanders, 20, a junior at Houston; Hunter Haas, 22, a senior at Oklahoma; and Charlie Woerner, 22, a senior at Southern California.

The veterans of the field in the third round were Bob Kearney, 43, of Houston and Richard Smith, 41, of Dresden, Tenn. Kearney won his second-round match against John Pate, older brother of PGA player Steve Pate.

But Haas defeated Kearney 2 and 1 in the third round, while Smith lost 5 and 4 to Gossett.

Gary Vanier, 48, who was trying to become the oldest Amateur champion, three-putted the 18th hole to lose his second-round match to Robert Oppenheim, 19, a sophomore at Rollins College. Oppenheim lost to Woerner in the third round.

``Team McCumber″ also failed to reach the third round.

Josh McCumber, the nephew of PGA player Mark McCumber, lost six of the first seven holes and was ousted 4 and 2 by SMU sophomore Nicholas Loar, who chipped in on the 16th to end that second-round match.

McCumber’s caddy throughout the championship was his wife, Tracey. McCumber proposed on a golf course last November, and they were married 3 1/2 months ago.

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