Oklahoma State's Jordan Niebrugge outlasted California's Michael Kim during their 36-hole championship match at the United States Amateur Public Links Championship on Saturday to earn a 1-up victory at Laurel Hill Golf Club.
Niebrugge, who was the first Cowboy to compete in the event's championship match since Dayton Rose's back-to-back appearances in 2003 and 2004, became the first player in program history to win the title.
"It's awesome. Going into today I was focused on kind of beating the course, I didn't really look at who I was playing," Niebrugge said. "Obviously he's got great achievements. He's a great player. But I thought if I went and played the course like I did all week, I could have a chance at the end."
The rising sophomore joins an impressive list of OSU players to win USGA titles that includes U.S. Amateur champions Labron Harris, Jr. (1962), Bob Dickson (1967), Scott Verplank (1984) and Peter Uihlein (2010), 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Trip Kuehne and 1999 U.S. Senior Open Champion Dave Eichelberger.
The Mequon, Wis., was impressive throughout his six matches. Over the course of the 114 holes Niebrugge played in the match play bracket, he trailed for just two holes, the second hole of his semifinal match against James Erkenbeck and the first hole against Kim.
During the morning 18 on Saturday, Kim started with a birdie at the par-4 first, but would not lead again. Niebrugge answered with a birdie of his own on the next hole and took his first lead with a par at the third. Another par at the fifth resulted in a 2-up advantage.
Back-to-back birdies by Kim at the seventh and eighth squared the match and the status would remain unchanged over the next eight holes. Niebrugge moved back in front with a birdie at the 17th and held a 1-up lead at the halfway point.
During the afternoon session, Niebrugge extended his lead early with birdies on two of his first four holes and moved out to a 4-up lead with a par at the sixth hole.
Three holes later, Kim began his comeback effort with a birdie at the par-5 ninth. He moved within two with another birdie at the 12th hole and got within one with five holes remaining after Niebrugge made a rare bogey at the 13th. The two players would halve the next four holes to send Niebrugge to the 18th clinging to a 1-up lead.
Both players found the fairway off the tee, but Kim found trouble after hitting his second into a water hazard. Niebrugge laid up with his second and found the back fringe with his third. He then chipped onto the green for a conceded par to earn the James D. Standish Trophy.
The win earns him a likely invitation into The Masters in 2014 as well as exemptions into the next two U.S. Amateurs and a three-year exemption from local U.S. Open qualifying.