Former Stanford Star Andrew Yun Earns First Professional Win at eGolf Tour’s Willow Creek Open

By Stewart Moore: Original Article at

High Point, NC – At the ripe age of 15, Andrew Yun convinced his parents to move the family from the somewhat cold and damp confines of Tacoma, WA to Chandler, AZ, so that the junior golf star could better hone his emerging game in prime year-round conditions. After four stellar years as one of the top players in the storied Stanford golf program, Yun has broken through on golf's next level up the proverbial ladder, closing with a 3-under 69 at the eGolf Tour's Willow Creek Open on Friday to post 14-under par, good for his first professional win and the event's $15,000 first-place prize.

Yun's week at scenic Willow Creek Country Club began with rounds of 67-66—133, which put the former Cardinal standout at 11-under par heading into Friday's third and final round – two shots clear of playing partner Ted Brown of Glen Allen, VA.

After a solid two-putt par at the par-4 first, Yun calmed any final-round nerves he may have had with a stellar chip-in birdie on the par-4 second after he short-sided himself on his approach shot.

andrew--yun-inline-trophy courtesy of"The chip-in on No. 2 was huge," said Yun, 23. "It kind of jumpstarted everything, and after that it was easier to get into a flow."

Yun's flow was evident, as birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 pushed him further into the red at 14-under par for the week. A bogey on the par-4 ninth put him back to 13-under, but still two shots clear of the field with nine holes to go.

Andrew YunAndrew Yun

"I told myself to stick to the process and not worry about what everyone else was doing," Yun said after his round. "Usually I look at the leaderboards, but today I tried not to. I just wanted to play to the best of my ability and let everything take care of itself."

Yun birdied the docile par-5 10th, but gave the shot right back with a bogey on the 11th that knocked him back down to 13-under par. Another birdie-bogey stretch on 14 and 15 kept him three clear of the field, but it was a late birdie on the par-3 16th that allowed him to finally exhale coming down the stretch.

"After that birdie on 16, I felt a lot better coming in," said Yun, who rolled in a 20-footer to move to 14-under par. "I knew I was ahead by three or four at that point, and those last two holes aren't too bad – they're a bit easier coming in."

Yun's second to the par-5 17th found trees down the right side, but wound up fine and gave way to a two-putt par. Up four on the tee of the par-4 finishing hole, Yun closed in solid fashion, notching a par at the last to wrap up a final-round 69, a 14-under par total for the week, and his first win as a professional.

"Right now it feels great. It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I'm pretty sure it will tonight," said Yun of career win No. 1. "It has been a while since I've won a tournament – any tournament – but to win one professionally means a lot."

Yun's talent began to emerge at an early age in the Pacific Northwest. As one of the best up-and-coming players in Washington state and in the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), he offered up a peculiar request to his parents while only 15 years old – a request to move to a warmer climate so he could pursue his college and PGA TOUR dreams in good weather for 12 months a year.

"There are a lot of good players up there in Tacoma, but at the same time it's very difficult to practice in the winter," he said. "The best weather is during the summer months, but that's when most players are traveling around to tournaments, so you don't get to play in it that much."

Yun's parents obliged, and after emigrating from South Korea 25 years earlier, the family headed to the Arizona desert, and more specifically, the city of Chandler, so that Andrew could continue to ascend up the junior golf ranks.

"I really wanted to go to a warmer climate where I could practice year-round. My mom and dad sacrificed a lot, selling their business and pretty much moving with me," Yun said. "They sold everything and left their family. It was a huge sacrifice for them, and I can't thank them enough for that."

The family's bet on their youngest child paid off, as Yun earned a scholarship to Stanford University, where he produced the third-lowest career scoring average (71.5) in the program's stout history – trailing only Tiger Woods and recent Ben Hogan Award winner Patrick Rodgers.

Yun was twice selected to the U.S. Palmer Cup team, and remained an amateur throughout the summer of 2013 with the hopes of earning a Ryder Cup nod last fall. When he failed to do so, he turned professional and headed off to Tour Q-School, where advancement to second stage left him without status for 2014.

Christian BrandChristian Brand

Like many players before him, Yun committed to a veritable plethora of Monday qualifiers this year, chasing the dream by trying to go low early and often each Monday morning in a town nowhere near you. That road can be a tough one to plod along, but a win at Willow Creek helped solidify his outlook for the year. After topping without doubt the season's strongest and deepest field, Yun knows his game stacks up, and he's ready to continue proving so.

"This win is huge. Hopefully I can build on this and use this experience towards the Mondays," he said. "To get that first win is great, and to have it on the eGolf Tour with such a good field and a great venue, it's even better."

Christian Brand of Charleston, WV finished in solo-second place with rounds of 70-67-69—206 (10-under), four shots back of Yun. He earned $8,485.

Brand entered the final round at 7-under par, trailing Yun by four, and proceeded to play bogey-free golf throughout, notching birdies on Nos. 4, 7 and 10 to close with a 3-under 69. The birdie at 10 briefly pulled him within three shots of the lead, but that was as close as he would get after paring his final eight holes.

At Tour Q-School finals last December, the 26-year-old Brand finished tied for 56th, thanks in part to closing rounds of 64-69 that vaulted him up the leaderboard and into good status on the PGA TOUR's developmental circuit this year. The affable West Virginia native has made four starts on the Tour this year, but has missed the cut each time out.

Luke Hopkins of Greenville, SC, Rick Lamb of South Bend, IN, Ethan Tracy of Columbus, OH, Drew Perry of Waxhaw, NC and Travis Ross of Crookston, MN finished tied for third at 9-under 207, seven shots behind Yun. Each player earned $4,350 on the week.

Lamb, a former University of Tennessee star making his first career eGolf Tour start, was Yun's closest competitor throughout much of the first 12 holes. Birdies on Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 pushed him to 11-under early on Friday, but a bogey-birdie-bogey stretch on Nos. 13 through 15 dropped him back down to 10-under par and somewhat out the title mix.

Lamb, who finished T2 at the 2013 NCAA Championship, was tied for second alongside Brand heading to the tee of the par-4 18th, but closed with a bogey to finish his week with a 2-under 70.

Ross, one of the tour's steadiest players this year, made the cut on the number at 1-under 143, then started his final round with a birdie on 10 and a double-bogey on 11 before rallying in dramatic fashion.

The former University of New Mexico golfer birdied Nos. 13 through 17 to turn in 4-under 32, then added birdies on Nos. 3, 4, 7 and 8 to close with another 32, good for a final-round 64 – the low round of the week.

The finish marked his third straight top-10 on tour and his sixth top-25 in six starts this year.

• The tour would like to thank Willow Creek Country Club director of golf Jim Brotherton and his staff for their outstanding help in conducting this tournament. A great job was done by Willow Creek head golf course superintendent David Johnson and his crew to present a wonderful course, especially the Champion Bermuda greens – which presented some of the best putting surfaces of the year. Last but certainly not least, thank you to the members of Willow Creek Country Club for allowing the tour to have access to their great club for tournament week. Their efforts in volunteering to help with spotting, starting, live scoring and housing certainly made this one of the tour's best events of the year.


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