NORMAN, Okla. Oklahoma’s Anthony Kim fell 4 and 3 to Casey Watabu in the finals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Golf Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., Saturday.
The 36-hole match was extremely tight in the morning round with Watabu holding a 1-up lead heading to the 12th hole. But Kim recorded a double bogey at the par-3 12th and a bogey at the 13th to hand Watabu a 3-up advantage.
The pair matched birdies on the next two holes before another bogey by Kim left him down by four. Watabu promptly birdied the 324-yard, par-4 18th to take a 5-up lead into the afternoon round.
Watabu, a native of Kapaa, Hawaii, increased his lead to 7-up with birdies on the 19th and 20th holes.
Kim attempted another big comeback, as he did in his second-round and quarterfinal matches, slicing into the lead with birdies on two of his next four holes.
Still trailing by four at the par-5 11th (the 29th hole of the day), Kim watched as Watabu sank another birdie putt to regain a 5-up advantage.
The two matched scores at No. 12 and 13, and Kim extended the match with a birdie at the par-5 14th.
Needing to win all four remaining holes to send the match into a playoff, Kim could only equal Watabu’s par at the 15th, giving the recent University of Nevada graduate the title.
Kim’s runner-up finish marked his best showing in a USGA championship. He was also a semifinalist in last year’s Public Links before losing in a 20-hole match.
Up next for the three-time All-American and 2005 Big 12 Player of the Year is the U.S. Amateur, Aug. 21-27, at famed Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.
Kim's Match Results:
Rd. 1(7/12): Kim def. Lucas Lee (Brazil), 2 and 1
Rd. 2 (7/13): Kim def. Rory Hie (Los Angeles), 19 holes
Rd. 3(7/13): Kim def. Brad Marek (Arlington Heights, Ill.), 5 and 4
Quarterfinals (7/14): Kim def. Matt Harmon (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 19 holes
Semifinals (7/14): Kim def. Kevin Larsen (Santa Barbara, Calif.), 6 and 5
Finals (7/15): Casey Watabu (Kapaa, Hawaii) def. Kim, 4 and 3