NEWTON, Kan. – Faced with adversity for the first time this week at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, a feeling of hopelessness nearly overtook 18-year old Doug Ghim in the semifinals.
The future Texas Longhorns golfer trailed for the first time at the APL and faced a three-hole deficit against Oklahoma senior and Sterling, Kan., native Michael Gellerman with six holes left.
Luckily he had someone who knew perfectly how to ease his troubles – his dad, Jim, who was caddying for him.
Ghim was able to rally back at Sand Creek Station Golf Course and clinch a berth to the finals with a win on the 18th hole. He'll face Byron Meth – Ghim and Meth were two of the four co-medalists during qualifying – in the 36-hole finals. Meth advanced with a 6 and 5 semifinal win over Jess Bonneau.
"It really was difficult," Ghim said. "It took everything out of me. At one point I thought it might be too late. But my dad, thankful he was there. He kept pushing me. He kept reminding me that I wasn't out of it and that I've been playing well and there is no reason I cannot play well the last couple of holes."
After Gellerman took the 3-up lead after the 12th hole, Ghim responded with a win on the 13th. He parlayed the momentum into a birdie on the 14th to cut Gellerman's lead to one.
On the par-4 16th, both players struggled. Ghim's approach shot missed the green and he faced a difficult chip that rested against the collar.
"Not really sure how the ball was going to come out," Ghim said. "So I played it conservatively. Didn't want to knock it way by and give Michael a free run at par and give him a little bit of hope."
Ghim's chip settled 8 feet from the hole. After Gellerman missed a lengthy par attempt, Ghim drained his putt to even the match.
"I knew if I didn't make it, 17 and 18 would be very difficult," Ghim said. "Thankfully, it went in."
On 18, Gellerman missed the green right while Ghim stuck a 164-yard 6-iron into a howling wind to 10 feet. After Gellerman missed a par attempt, he conceded the birdie to Ghim for the victory.
Meth, who plays college golf at Pacific, didn't have quite the dramatic finish against the 43-year-old Bonneau. He started with two birdies and kept the momentum going en route to a dominating win.
Once Meth got the lead, he never backed off.
"I try not to give them any ground," Meth said of when he gets a lead. "Pick my spots, make aggressive swings and smart targets and then take it from there."