By Bobby Bancroft
The Associated Press
LORTON, Va. — Jordan Niebrugge hasn’t put a lot of thought into exactly what it will be like to play in the Masters. The Oklahoma State sophomore just knows he’ll have a far better view of the course next year.
Niebrugge won the U.S. Amateur Public Links on Saturday at Laurel Hill, beating University of California junior Michael Kim 1 up in the 36-hole final, with the winner traditionally receiving a spot in the Masters — if still an amateur
“It’s just a dream come true for any golfer,” Niebrugge said.
“This past year after our win at Dallas, the team, we were driving back and we were obsessed with watching the Masters — we got it online. We watched it in the van on the way home — it was five or six hours.”
The 19-year-old Niebrugge, from Mequon, Wis., was 1 up after the morning round and increased the margin to four in the first six holes in the afternoon.
“I thought if I went and played the course like I did all week, I thought I’d have a chance in the end and that’s kind of where I ended up,” said Niebrugge.
Niebrugge trailed after only two of his 114 holes in six rounds of match play.
Kim, the 20-year-old Walker Cup player from Del Mar, Calif., rallied with birdie wins on the 27th and 30th holes.
Niebrugge went without a bogey until the 31st hole when he three-putted and had his lead cut to one.
“He only made one bogey in 36 holes, so I knew I had to make birdies to win holes and fell one or two short,” Kim said. “I lost in the round of 16 last year, so I have to keep improving and we’ll see what happens next year.”
On the 33rd, Niebrugge matched Kim’s birdie to maintain the one-hole lead.
They halved the final five holes.
“A let up a little bit during that first nine in the afternoon and Jordan played great in that stretch,” Kim said. “I tried to make a comeback and pulled within one, but I just kind of ran out of holes.”
Kim, the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Merion after winning the Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins awards as the college player of the year, ended any chance of extra holes when he hit his second shot on the 36th into the water.
“Today I only made one bogey,” Niebrugge said. “I made him beat me with birdies.”
Niebrugge finished with six birdies, and Kim had seven birdies and three bogeys.
“I think that hole on 33; the par 5 was a huge hole for me. I made a birdie on top of him, which was huge,” Niebrugge said. “I think that was kind of a momentum swing. If I would have missed it we were even going into the last three holes and anything can happen after that.”
As for his plans next April, Niebrugge couldn’t think of a better place to be than Augusta.
“That’s the one course if I had to pick any in the entire world that I wanted to play,” Niebrugge said.