Jeong first Asian to win amateur championship

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Jeong first Asian to win amateur championship

GLASGOW - Korea’s Jeong Jin made history Sunday when he became the first Asian winner of the prestigious Amateur Golf Championship.

Jeong, 20, produced a superb display of putting to defeat James Byrne of Scotland 5&4 in Sunday’s 36-hole final at Muirfield, East Lothian. The Korean took the title with a birdie at the 32nd hole, his 10th of the day.

“I’ve never putted better than that,” said Jeong, a 5&4 winner in Saturday’s semifinal.

“I was quite nervous all week, especially before today [Sunday]. But I came here this week really wanting to win. I wanted this title so badly.”

Thanks to his victory, the current world No. 10, who plays his golf in Australia representing Waverley Golf Club, earns an exemption into the 150th Anniversary Open Championship and an invitation to the 2011 Masters Tournament.

“I hoped that I was going to win the Amateur and come back for the Open because I’ve been watching the Open on TV every year since Ernie Els won at Muirfield in 2002. That was the first time I’d ever watched it,” he said. “I really wanted to know what it was like to play out of knee-high rough!

“I always hoped that my first Major would be the Open. Now I can play at St. Andrews. It means everything. It’s a dream come true.”

Jeong becomes the second Korean amateur to earn a place at St. Andrews. the other being Eric Chun, who secured his Open berth at the International Final Qualifying - Asia earlier in the year.

Byrne, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on becoming the first Scot to win the Amateur Championship on home soil since Stuart Wilson, who won at the Home of Golf in 2004.

The world No. 20 was denied the chance of finding the form he had shown in previous rounds.

“The conditions were much tougher today. Not only was it windy, but there were a lot of crosswinds, and he [Jeong] seemed to handle it well - really good ball control. I was struggling with that,” said Byrne. “I don’t know how he putted so well. Every putt he hit was just perfect speed - it was unbelievable. He never really gave me a chance.” AFP
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