Hahn wins Western Am

Caleb Raubenolt

Victory caps week of golfers’ success

Kent State junior golfer John Hahn celebrates with the George R. Thorne Trophy after winning the 107th Western Amateur Championship in Lake Forest, Ill. Photo courtesy of Kent State Athletic Communications

Credit: DKS Editors

Among a list that dates back to 1899, which includes names of golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, Kent State junior John Hahn will be the newest addition to the George R. Thorne Trophy.

In posting a 3-and-2 victory in the final match-play round at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill., on Saturday, Hahn became just the third Ohio native to win the Western Amateur Championship.

“To be in the same breath as those guys is absolutely so humbling,” Hahn said, in regards to joining some of the most prestigious names in the history of golf. “I finally feel like the hard work that I’ve been putting in is paying off. I wish I had better words for it, but it’s very surreal to be on a trophy with guys like that.”

In what turned out to be a week of good news for the Kent State golf program, coach Herb Page said he was proud of Hahn’s ability to endure the five-day, 139-hole event.

“I’m just so happy for John Hahn,” Page said. “He’s a nice young man, and he works hard at it. This is indeed, in the world of amateur golf, one of the absolute best you can win.”

Hahn, a two-time Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Year and Honorable Mention All-American in the spring, told Golfweek.com that he struggled in match-play competition early in his amateur career.

After surviving a sudden-death playoff to advance as the 16th and lowest seed in the first round of the match-play bracket, Hahn said his confidence level rose dramatically. He even denied one spectator’s claim that he was the tournament’s “Cinderella story”.

“I felt like I belonged there,” Hahn said. “I didn’t want to think of myself as a Cinderella story at all. I felt more confident and felt like I should be the number one seed more so than the 16.”

Page, entering his 32nd season as coach in the fall, said Hahn knows the tradition of the Kent State golf program, which includes 13 MAC Championships, 72 All-MAC golfers and 17 All-Americans.

“What he’s done already at the university level – two years MAC Player of the Year, MAC Champion – he’s building a resume that is indeed world class.

“He’s already a world-class player,” Page said. “This verifies it, that now he’s one of the best in the United States. It’s another step in his goals, which I’m sure is to someday get out there and play with some of the world’s best in the PGA Tour.”

But Hahn wasn’t the only member of the Golden Flashes to impress Page lately.

Ryan Yip, former MAC Golfer of the Year who graduated in 2004 earned $20,000 after winning the Jane Rogers Championship on Sunday. The victory was Yip’s first professional tournament win in his three years as a member of the Canadian Tour.

On Sunday, 2009 graduate Nick Latimer won the 16th Greater Cleveland Amateur in Brecksville, nine strokes ahead of the 84-player field. Five days earlier, on Aug. 4, Latimer qualified for U.S. Men’s Amateur Championship by winning the sectional qualifier at Red Tail in Avon, Ohio. In June, he won the 79th annual Northeast Ohio Amateur Invitational by 15 strokes – the second-largest margin of victory in the tournament’s history.

Nearly three months after being named MAC Freshman of the Year in May, Mackenzie Hughes, 18, finished runner-up at the Canadian Junior Boys Championship.

Ben Curtis, Kent State alumnus and 2003 British Open champion, presented $90,000 – the amount each member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team donates to the college or university of his choice – to Kent State on Aug. 4, as part of Play Golf America University programming. According to the organization’s Web site, the donations provide funds toward enhancing education and teaching instruction of golf to university students.

“It was a pretty good week for the old coach. It doesn’t get any better. Rewards from alums, current players, I’m very lucky,” Page said. “I’m around some great young men. It’s awesome.

“All this literally happened within 7 days. It was unbelievable.”

Contact managing editor Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected]