LORTON, Va. –Michael Kim’s comeback late in the 36-hole championship match of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship came up just short as Jordan Niebrugge posted a 1 up victory over the Cal junior on Saturday. Niebrugge received an exemption to the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Amateur events with the victory and is also likely to be invited to the 2014 Masters as a result of his win.
Kim led only once Saturday and trailed Niebrugge by as many as four holes with 10 remaining before starting his late run on the match’s 27th hole with a birdie on the par-five ninth. He would then make a 28-foot putt for birdie the par-four 12th hole and take advantage of Niebrugge’s only bogey of the entire match on the par-four 13th that cut the lead to a single hole with five remaining.
Kim was able to come up with another birdie on the 33rd hole of the match when he nailed a 12-foot birdie on the par-five 15th but Niebrugge matched it with a 10-foot birdie of his own. Both golfers made par on each of the other four final holes as Niebrugge’s one-hole lead held up.
The only advantage of the day for Kim came when he birdied the par-four first hole but Niebrugge answered with a birdie on the par-four second hole to square the match and would never trail again.
Niebrugge took advantage of a Kim bogey on the par-four third to take his first lead and would extend his advantage to two strokes with another Kim bogey on the par-four fifth. Kim came back to square the match with back-to-back birdies on the par-four seventh and par-three eighth holes.
The match would stay all square for the next eight holes as the players both posted seven pars and a birdie on the par-four 10th hole during the stretch before Niebrugge retook the lead and would never relinquish after that point with a birdie on the par-four 17th. He would extend that lead to four holes on the front nine of the second 18 holes with birdies on the second and par-three fourth, and a Kim bogey on the par-four sixth.’
Saturday’s 36 holes of action wrapped up a stretch for Kim at the event that included nine rounds of golf in six days. Kim tied for fifth after two rounds of stroke play last Monday and Tuesday to advance to match play, then defeated Brandon Hortt (8 & 6) in a Round of 64 match Wednesday before winning twice on both Thursday (d. Lucas Kim, 2 up; d. Mitchell Rutledge, 3 & 2) and Friday (d. Robby Shelton IV, 1 up; d. Eric Sugimoto, 4 &3) to reach Saturday’s championship match.