Lion An admits he was nervous.
When the 18-year-old Northview grad teed off on the first hole of the U.S. Amateur Public Links in Aurora, Colo., things didn't go too well.
"I couldn't make any good shots or good putts," An said.
But with a field of more than 75 being slashed to 56 for a match play finish, An didn't want his nerves to keep him out of the match play. And he didn't. On the second day, An calmed down to squeeze in to match play in his first tournament against an open amateur field instead of a junior group.
"I played aggressive and my caddie (coach Tim Foster, pro at The Hooch) helped me a lot," An said. "It was OK."
An lost in the first round of match play, and the disappointment of his performance for the week covers his face. But for the former Class AAAAA Georgia state individual champion and a three-time qualifier for the USGA Junior Amateur, qualifying for the Public Links was a big step.
"They score better and the players are bigger. It is totally different than a junior tournament," An said. "Mostly, it was mental."
An did play in the group behind top amateur golfer Rickie Fowler, who often plays in professional tournaments, and with Florida's Billy Horschel, another highly-ranked amateur. But An didn't back down and, once he worked through the nerves, his game improved. He slowly found his confidence.
"I know I can play well and compete with those guys," An said. "I didn't care what they would shoot. I just played my game. I hit every shot and played smart shots."
An, who plans to attend Darton College and play golf in the fall, took the weekend to learn that he needs college golf and that he needs to keep playing. The Public Links was An's only big tournament of the summer and he blames some of the rust for his sub-par results.
"I want to try to get my four-year degree and after that turn pro," An said. "I don't want to rush into things. I have seen a lot of guys turn pro before college and not be successful. I want to enjoy college."
And with more tournaments, An should shake trepidation and maybe make some of his competition a bit nervous.
Locals star in AJGA Championship Weeks
Benjamin Shipp of Duluth, Jack Banda of Grayson and Josh Klipstein all won their age groups in events held as part of the Atlanta Junior Golf Associations Championship Weeks.
Shipp won the nine hole boys 12-and-under at the Nine-Hole Classic played at the Ansley Club in Atlanta. Shipp fired rounds of 40-37 to win by five strokes over Conyers' Hunter Elliot. Michael Collins of Duluth finished tied for third with an 84. Also playing at Ansley were Suwanee's Kayley Marchke (2nd) and Karly Robinson (T-3) in the girls 7-18 nine hole open division.
Banda won the nine hole club boys 13-and-over with a 37 to beat Kennesaw's Nicholas Marin at City Club Marietta. Ansley Bowman (T-3) of Dacula shot a 46 in the nine hole club girls 7-18 division.
To win the club boys 15-18 18 hole title, Klipstein shot rounds of 77-74 to beat Marietta's Kevin Tillis by on stroke at City Club Marietta on the final hole. Tillis double-bogeyed 18 and Klipstein used par to take the title. Norcross' Jason Mendel (3rd) shot a 157 in the club boys 13-14 division.
Wright, Georgia claim battle with South Carolina
Suwanee's Kendall Wright won both her match play challenges as Georgia defeated South Carolina in the second Georgia-South Carolina Girls Junior Challenge Match.
In both rounds, Wright won 1-up and she trailed on the back nine both days.
In the same week, Wright also finished fourth in the Yamaha Georgia Women's Open at SummerGrove Golf Club. Wright shot 3 over in two days. Playing out of Chateau Elan, Abby Johnson (T-26) shots 20 over while Lawrenceville's Darlene Werhnyak (33rd) shot 34 over.
Newsome wins Cobblestone Junior Open
Dacula's Emerson Newsome shot a two-day 152 to win the boys 12-15 division of the Cobblestone Junior Open in Acworth.
Newsome shot rounds of 74-78 to beat Alabama's Jacob Harper and Bermuda's Tyler Balcombe by one stroke.
Duluth's Austin Putman finished fifth in the boys 16-18 division with rounds of 81-80.
Korom nets win at AGA's third major
Chuck Korom of Lawrenceville finished with a net score of 69 to win his flight of the Amateur Golf Association's third Major at the TPC at Sugarloaf.
Korom beat Marietta's Wally Dennis by two strokes.
Duluth's Eddie Fields finished third in Flight 2 with an 82.
SideBar: Cedar Lake Golf Club
Year opened: 1969
Par/Yardage from each tee: Gold 6,538; Blue 6,297; White 5,930; Silver 4,964; Red 4,519
Course records: Unkown
Head pro: David Bowman
Greens fees: Weekday $36, after 1 p.m. $30, seniors $28; Weekend $44, after 1 p.m. $36, seniors $36
· Course has more than 100 cedar trees, three lakes
· Practice facility has 8,000-square-foot putting green
· Five par 5s give course a par 73