PING PHOENIX JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
ASU Karsten Golf Course
Tempe, Ariz.
Aug. 22-25, 2002

HAN WINS FIFTH AJGA TITLE OF THE SEASON, BESTS LARSEN IN PLAYOFF
Martin holds on to win Girls Division by three

TEMPE, Ariz. - Seung Su Han of Chino Hills, Calif., drilled a seven-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to force a sudden-death playoff with good friend and Canon Cup teammate Kevin Larsen of Santa Barbara, Calif., at the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship. The two headed back to the 471-yard, par-4 18th-the hole that has played the most difficult all week-to decide a winner. Han's par was good enough to secure his fifth AJGA title of the season. In the Girls Division, Allison Martin of Bakersfield, Calif., built a four-shot cushion after the first two rounds and then cruised to a three-stroke victory with a final-round, 3-over-par 75.

The 54-hole tournament, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured 84 players representing 12 states and Canada. Fifteen participants call Arizona home. It was held at the par-72 Arizona State University Karsten Golf Course. Past champions include PGA TOUR player Tiger Woods (1991) and LPGA tour players Heather Bowie (1991), Emilee Klein (1992) and Grace Park (1994, '96).

With the win Han added another impressive line to his resume for AJGA Player of the Year honors. The 15-year-old began his torrid run last November when he won the Callaway Golf Junior All-Star Championship. Han then swept the boys majors this year by winning the Chrysler Boys Invitational in Greensboro, N.C in June and the EDS Boys Junior Championship last month in Dallas. Wedged in between was a four-stroke victory at the ClubCorp Junior at Mission Hills and he recently helped the West team retain the coveted Canon Cup.
All of this success has come somewhat as a surprise to Han.

"At the beginning of the year my goal was just to play in the major tournaments," he said.

Five national titles later, Han (69-69-67-205) can play in any AJGA tournament he chooses, but winning is not always at the forefront of his mind.

"At the beginning of the tournament my dad told I had done a great job this year and to just have fun," Han said. "I don't think about winning."

That nonchalant approach to the game may tell the whole story about his success. Han entered the final hole trailing Larsen by a stroke. He calmly stuck his second shot-a 190-yard 5-iron-to seven feet. Han drained the putt to force the playoff and eventually won, but after he hit his approach shot he never thought he was going to have a chance to pick up his fifth win.

"I thought I duck-hooked it onto No. 9," Han said. "I lost the ball, but when people started clapping I knew it had to be good."

Likewise the composed Han remained collected while standing over the significant birdie putt.

"I didn't really think about having to make it," Han said. "I just hit and it went in."

Larsen garnered second place and Peter Campbell of Encinitas, Calif., finished in third at 207. Zack Miller of San Rafael, Calif., earned fourth place at 210 and Jay Choe of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Casey Clendenon of Katy, Texas tied for fifth with a three-day total of 215.

In the Girls Division, Martin (70-69-75-214) picked up her first AJGA win of the season and fourth overall and did so on a day when she was not playing her best golf.

"I was struggling with my swing today," Martin said. "I was not real consistent with my driver and irons today, but I didn't make any real big mistakes today. I was not that hard on myself today."

Martin, who was a semifinalist in the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur this year, gained her first AJGA win away from her home state by scoring well on the par 5s. For the tournament she played them at 7-under-par, including 2-under for the final round.

The 16-year-old took a little pride back from last year when she lost her final-round lead to finish second by a stroke. Martin did not allow that to happen this year as she played a cautious final round that was good enough to earn her the title.

"I feel pretty good," Martin said. "I would feel better if I played better, but I just kept playing and knew more birdie opportunities would come. My score was not the best, but it got the job done."

Amie Cochran of Torrance, Calif., finished in second at 217 and Phoenix native Lauren Todd and Angela Park of Torrance, Calif., tied for third at 218.

For more information on the PING Phoenix Junior Championship please contact national headquarters at 877-373-2542.

 
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Andrew Chu
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