Im Wins Southern Highlands Title in a Playoff

March 13, 2005

UCLA freshman Daniel Im won a sudden-victory playoff and the Bruins finished ninth as a team in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship Sunday. The tournament was hosted by Nevada Las Vegas, which won the event by 15 shots.

'It was great to win. I still can't believe it,' said Im, whose previous best collegiate finish was eighth at The Prestige in November.

Im won his first collegiate event by firing a four-under par 68 to tie South Carolina freshman Mark Anderson, who had finished his final round with a one-under par 71. Both players posted 54-hole totals of 209 (-7).

Im began the day on the 10th hole and quickly double-bogeyed the 11th to go to two-over par on for his round.

'I thought I had no chance,' said Im, who posted a first-round 66 (-6) and was teid for the 18-hole lead.

Then the putts began to drop. He birdied 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18, and with a bogey at the 17th, posted a 34 on his outward nine.

'I made about a 40-footer for birdie at 12, and that got my confidence back,' said Im.

On the inward nine, he birdied 4,5 and 8 with a bogey at the sixth for another 34. On No. 9, his 18th hole, he missed a five-foot birdie putt on the low side for the outright victory.

Anderson was waiting for the results. The two freshmen went back to the 18th tee to decide the winner.

'I was pretty confident. I had played against him before and I knew I was putting well,' said Im. 'I was feeling pretty good about competing against him one-on-one.'

Anderson 'hit an awful drive,' according to Im, who split the fairway with his tee shot. The South Carolina player managed to hit out of the rough, but Im left himself in great shape after his second shot.

'He hit a bad chip and three-putted,' Im recalled.

The UCLA rookie two-putted for par and etched his name in the record books as the 2005 Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship winner against an outstanding field.

Looking up at Im from the lower rungs of the leaderboard were the Big Four of collegiate golf: UNLV senior Ryan Moore (3rd, 211), the defending U.S. amateur champion and the country's top-ranked collegiate player; New Mexico junior Spencer Levin (6th, 215), the second-ranked collegian in the country; Oklahoma State freshman Pablo Martin (10th, 216), the nation's fourth-ranked collegian and the 2004 winner of the Fall Preview and Arizona State junior Alejandro Canizares (25th, 222), the 2003 NCAA champion and a two-time All-American.

'This victory ranks right up there with John Merrick's [2003] Pac-10 title and Travis Johnson's [2004] win in the NCAA West Regional,' said UCLA Head Coach O.D. Vincent. 'With that field, Daniel established himself as one of the top players.'

Im's victory was the second by a UCLA player this season. Sophomore Peter Campbell won the inaugural Gold Rush title in September.

As a team the Bruins posted a final round score of 298 (+10) for a 54-hole total of 891 (+27), one shot behind eighth place South Carolina and 36 shots behind first-place UNLV (855, -9), which fired a final round 280 (-8).

The rest of the UCLA team did not fare as well. Sophomore Joakim Renstrom tied for 54th at 228 (+12), Campbell tied for 58th at 230 (+14), freshman Kevin Chappell tied for 60th at 231 (+15) and senior John Poucher tied for 74th at 239 (+23).

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