NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Sixth-seeded Brad Benjamin topped top-seeded Nick Taylor 7 and 6 in the final of the U.S. Amateur Public Links golf championship on Saturday at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
The U.S. Amateur Publinx champion is traditionally invited to play in the following year's Masters, provided he retains his amateur status. Benjamin plans to play in Augusta.
``This is still surreal,'' Benjamin said. ``The thought (of playing in the Masters) crossed my mind around the eighth hole or so.''
Benjamin, who swings left-handed but is a right-handed putter, was 5-up after the first 19 holes, and medalist Taylor never got closer. The Publinx medalist has not won the match play portion since 2000.
``You never know in match play,'' said Benjamin, who broke down in tears while speaking to reporters. ``I was telling my caddie that, even when I was 7 up with nine to play. Until it's over, it's never over.''
A 2009 University of Memphis graduate from Rockford, Ill., Benjamin finished ninth in this year's Conference USA tournament. On Saturday, he became the second lefty to win the Publinx, following Ralph Howe III in 1988.
Taylor, the low amateur (tied for 36th) in this year's U.S. Open, had breezed to the final round. The University of Washington golfer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, had won his five other matches in 14, 12, 13, 17 and 16 holes.
``Obviously, he's twice the player I am, at least on the resume, if not more than that,'' Benjamin said of Taylor. ``But eventually you've got to build one (a resume), so I might as well start today.''
Going into Saturday, Taylor had lost only seven of the 72 holes he had played in the tournament. Against Benjamin, he lost 10 of 30 holes played and won only three.
``Brad played unbelievable,'' Taylor said. ``He pretty much did to me what I did to other guys coming in. I didn't play great, but I didn't really give it to him. He played better. It was tough to gain ground when he was playing so well.''
While Taylor cruised into the final round, Benjamin advanced with five tough wins, in 17, 19, 17, 15 and 18 holes. He needed to win the 17th and 18th holes to win his semifinal round match.
Benjamin went 1 up on the second hole Saturday, and Taylor never had the lead. Going into the final, Taylor had trailed after only three of the 72 holes he played.