Amateur showing professionals how to play St. Andrews

Amateur showing professionals how to play St. Andrews

Jeong Jin qualified for the British Open by winning the British Amateur.
Tim Hales/AP

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — On a day that blew most of the world’s elite players off the face of Fife, 20-year-old South Korean amateur Jin Jeong gave an impressive exhibition of how to survive links golf.

With just the 18th to play to complete his second round, he was 5-under par and tied for sixth when play was suspended in near darkness. He posted a 4-under 68 in the first round. The Silver Medal for low amateur is his for the taking.

Jeong has clearly taken to the original bump and grind style of this royal and ancient game. Playing links for the first time this year, he became the first Asian golfer to win the British Amateur Championship, beating a Scot in the final at Muirfield, too. His victory completed a grand slam of the amateur majors by Korean-born players, following wins by Byeong-Hun An in the U.S. Amateur and Han Chang-Won in the 2009 Asian Amateur. Never mind the English, the Koreans are coming, too.

“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,” Jeong said. “I always hoped my first major would be the Open. Playing at St. Andrews means everything. It’s a dream come true.”

Jeong began the week at St. Andrews ranked 1,360th in the world. But it won’t be too long before he begins his inevitable rise through the ranks when he turns professional after the 2011 Masters.