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Gossett Takes U.S. Amateur

After a nearly perfect day of golf, David Gossett finally made a mistake as he hoisted the U.S. Amateur Championship trophy, the top fell off and dropped to the 10th green.

"Bogey," the Texas sophomore muttered.

Gossett had just defeated Korean high school junior Sung Yoon Kim 9 and 8, matching the biggest margin of victory at the Amateur in 50 years.

Gossett, 20, took control of the 36-hole final early. He opened a two-hole lead on No. 4, then won holes 6 through 9 to grab a six-hole lead. He led by five holes after a morning round that included a seven-minute fog delay.

"I was thinking, `Man, this is not Memphis at all.' It was beautiful one moment and then the fog rolled in," said Gossett, who was playing in just his second Amateur. He missed the cut for match play in his earlier appearance.

When play resumed in the afternoon, Gossett needed just 10 more holes to finish off the match. He boosted his margin to nine holes with birdies on 7 and 8, holes Kim bogeyed.

Kim, who had shown no emotion all week while pulling off a series of upsets, had trouble getting out of the sand on No. 7 and tossed his ball through the fog and into the Pacific Ocean in disgust.

On No. 8, Kim's long putt for par hit the cup and rolled out. Then Gossett made a 25-foot putt, pumping his right fist in the air and high-fiving caddie Andy Martinez who usually works for PGA player Tom Lehman as he went up by nine holes.

A van carrying the trophy and the table for the awards presentation trailed the golfers, knowing Gossett could wrap up the match at any moment.

Both golfers bogeyed No. 9 and headed back into the thick fog, which made the afternoon even muggier than before. As people walked their dogs on the beach below and waves crashed on the shore, Gossett wrapped up the match.

He made par on the 10th, which sits right in front of a house built by actor Gene Hackman. Kim needed to make a 45-foot putt for a birdie and keep the match alive, but did not come close.

"Whew," Gossett quietly said to himself.

Then he hugged his dad and finally showed some emotion, sticking his tongue out and smiling while lifting the trophy. He had just made a "Hook 'em Horns" signal with his hand not unexpected for a Texas Longhorn when the top of the trophy fell off.

It was the biggest margin of victory in the final of the Amateur since Charles Coe won 11 and 10 over Rufus King at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., in 1949. Gossett matched the 9 and 8 win by Hal Sutton at Pinehurst, N.C., in 1980.

"It's pretty awesome. It was a long week here at Pebble Beach," said Gossett, who received a good luck fax from Texas alum Tom Kite before the final and a cogratulatory call from another Longhorn, Ben Crenshaw, after the victory. "I was focused each day. It's been a lot of hard work and it's paid off."

The victory earned Gossett exemptions into next year's U.S. Open and British Open. Both finalists get an invitation to play in next year's Masters, as long as they remain amateurs.

Kim, 17, came within a victory of becoming the youngest champion in Amateur history and the first non-North American to win the title since Harold Hilton of England won it in 1911.

The youngest player to win the U.S. Amateur was Tiger Woods, who captured the first of his three consecutive titles in 1994 at 18.

"I don't know if David Gossett always plays the way he did today. If he plays that way, his best will be better than my best," Kim said through a translator. "David Gossett's best day is better than my best day."

Kim now heads back to high school, hoping for some time off the course.

"When I get back, I want to stay away from golf a couple of weeks. Maybe go out with my friends and sleep a little bit longer, and also I'd like to lose a little weight," said the 5-foot-10, 198-pound Kim. "I want to maybe go train a little bit and study a little bit, a little English and some schoolwork."

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