Bryan Kim hadn’t made match play in his first two appearances at the U.S. Junior Amateur, but after a long six days in South Carolina, the incoming freshman at Duke is leaving with the trophy.
The 18-year-old outlasted Joshua Bai in the weather-delayed 36-hole final match on Sunday at Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course in Charleston, South Carolina, claiming the 2-up victory to join the likes of past champions such as Tiger Woods, Johnny Miller, David Duval, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler and recent Open champion Brian Harman.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Kim. “Especially coming into this week, I hadn’t made a cut at a USGA event, but to not only make the cut but win all six of my matches, especially against all these great competitors, it just means the world.
“It’s a huge stepping-stone. Just to have my name right next to those guys, those big guys, it just means if they can do it, I can do it. I’m right on track, so I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully, I’ll get there one day.”
Kim shot 7 under (68-69) over the 36-hole final (with match-play concessions) while Bai shot 4-under (67-73).
Inclement weather pushed the championship match to Sunday after a slew of storms rolled through the area on Saturday and delayed the start of the final match by more than three hours. More than an inch of rain fell on the property on Saturday, and at the time play was suspended for the day, Kim held a 1-up lead thru 25 holes.
What a match!
— USGA (@USGA) July 30, 2023
Kim is the lowest-seeded player, No. 52, to win the title since Charlie Beljan (No. 56) in 2002. Both Kim and Bai are now exempt into next month’s U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado, and Kim earned a place into the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. He also received a gold medal, as well as exemptions into all future U.S. Junior Amateurs (if eligible by age) as well as the 2024 U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
“I played really well. It really boosted my confidence going to tournaments in the future,” said Bai, who’s choosing to look at the positives of the week. “Just helps me know that I can compete at the top level. Just want to say really congratulations to Bryan. He’s a great player and even better person.”
Next year the U.S. Junior Amateur will head to Oakland Hills Country Club, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, July 22-27. The USGA will return to Daniel Island Club in three years’ time for the 2026 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.