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Seven Sun Devils Ready To Tee It At U.S. Open

Sep 13, 2020

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by Brandon Jones, Sun Devil Student Communications Intern Class of 2021

The Sun Devil men's golf program will be well represented in the 120th U.S. Open to be held at Winged Foot Golf Club, in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Sept. 17-20. The Sun Devils will have seven tee it up, while head coach Matt Thurmond will be Chun An Yu's caddie. Only Georgia (also with seven) can match it.

The #SunDevil7 includes players who have played in eventually five decades of college golf and ages in 50s, 40s, 30s and 20. It includes Phil Mickelson (1988-92), Paul Casey (1997-2000), Matt Jones (1998-2001), Chez Reavie (2000-04), Chan Kim (2008-09), @JonRahmpga (2012-16) and current Sun Devil Chun An Yu (2016-21).

CHUN AN YU
Kevin Yu (Chun) is making his third straight appearance in the U.S. Open Championship, hoping to make his first cut. Yu is an "extra" year senior, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic leading to the cancellation of all spring collegiate sports and the NCAA granting all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility. In his career at ASU, Yu has a 70.4 stroke average in 38 tournaments, with 78 out of 116 rounds at par or better.

Yu has seen great success in the amateurs, as he ranks third in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. He was on a hot streak during the 2018-19 season with seven top-five finishes in nine tournaments, including a win at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational and a third-place finish at NCAA Championships. He has also posted solid success in non-collegiate amateur tournaments. He placed fifth at the Asia-Pacific Amateur, 18th at the Western Amateur, second at the Porter Cup and 17th at the Players Amateur.

He finished fifth at the Emirates Australian Open in December 2019 before finishing 103rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his last tournament appearance before all of the cancellations. Yu will look to build off his success in his late 2019 and early 2020 campaign to try to make a push to make his first cut at the 2020 U.S. Open. 
 

JON RAHM
As Jon Rahm continues into his fifth year on the PGA Tour, he continues to excel. Rahm finished second in the FedEx cup rankings. He has been one of the hottest players on Tour since the season resumed. He earned nearly $6 million with eight top-10 finishes in the 2019-20 season, including wins at the Memorial and BMW Championship as well as runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open. 

The ASU graduate has five victories on the PGA Tour and 12 professional wins. He was nothing short of amazing at ASU before he turned pro. During his college career, he won 11 tournaments, had the third lowest NCAA season stroke average  during his junior year, won the 2015 and 2016 Ben Hogan Awards and was a two-time first team All-American.  Rahm is the second-best collegiate golfer that ASU has ever seen, only behind all-time great Phil Mickelson.

He will enter the U.S. Open as one of the favorites, as he looks for his first win in a major and hopes to turn his finish (T-3rd) in the 2019 U.S. Open into a win. Rahm is one of the tour's best and there's no reason we shouldn't see him in one of the final groups at Winged Foot.
 

CHAN KIM
Chan Kim comes into the 2020 U.S. Open with little experience on the PGA Tour, but has three international pro victories on his resumé. His impressive T-11 finish at the 2017 Open Championship remains his best finish on tour. 

He had one of the best freshman seasons in ASU history in 2008-09 before turning pro. Kim finished tied for 16th at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, Tied for 13th at the U.S. Intercollegiate, tied for 21 at Pac-10 Championships, T-3 at the NCAA West Regional, and T-23 at the NCAA Championships. He finished his freshman year with the fifth-lowest freshman stroke average in school history. 

Kim turned pro in 2010 after his sophomore season and his struggled to find success on the PGA Tour. Winged Foot will be looking to make his first cut in a major tournament since the 2017 Open Championship he played quite well in. He has appeared in three PGA tournaments in 2020, missing the cut at the PGA Championship, a T-46 finish at the HSBC Champions, and a T-41 finish at the Zozo Championship.

It would not be surprising to see him in the mix for a top-25 or a top-10 finish. This is a golfer that is still only 30 years old with lots of potential that just struggles to find consistency.

CHEZ REAVIE
Chez Reavie is a PGA tour veteran that remains under many people's radars. Reavie, 38, turned pro in 2004 and has two career PGA tour victories and 26 top-10 finishes in his career. Reavie put together a solid 2019-20 campaign, finishing tied for 17th at the Workday Charity Open, tied for tenth at the Genesis Invitational, and tied for sixth at the WGC-St. Jude Invitational. He earned just over $1.1 million in 2020 and started the 2020-21 season strong at the Safeway Open last week.

The ASU alum was successful from a young age. Playing in his first USGA event at the age of 19, Reavie earned a trip to the 2002 Masters with his 2001 Public Links title by beating Danny Green in the 36-hole championship match at the 7,005-yard, par-71 Pecan Valley Golf Club in San Antonio on July 14 with a two-foot par putt on the 38th hole. Reavie was an honorable mention All-American in 2001 and 2003 and a second-team All-American in 2004. His freshman year, Reavie finished tied for fourth at the 2001 NCAA Championship in Durham, N.C. Reavie's NCAA championship performance was the second best by a Sun Devil freshman in school history. 

Reavie looks to duplicate the success he had in 2019, a year where he won the Travelers Championship, tied for third at the Sony Open, and most importantly, tied for third at the U.S. Open. Reavie was very close to getting the win at the U.S. Open last year and looks to match that as well as have a better fate in the fourth round at Winged Foot. 

Reavie will widely be expected to make the cut, but many will expect him to compete for his first win at a major as he begins to approach the age of 40.
 
PAUL CASEY
Paul Casey is a PGA tour veteran that is still in his prime in his early 40s. Casey, 43, turned pro in 2000 and has three PGA and 19 total professional wins in his career. Casey has also put together an additional 61 top-10 finishes in his solid career.

The ASU Alum was nothing short of phenomenal during his ASU career in the late 1990s. He was a second-team All-American twice and a first-team All-American in his final year with the Sun Devils. Casey led the Sun Devils to three straight Pac-10 titles in his last three seasons, won the English Amateur in '99 and '00, and his 69.87 scoring average during his senior season broke Phil Mickelson's record for the best scoring average in ASU history. 

Casey looks to add to his solid 2020 campaign at Winged Foot. He finished tied at the PGA Championship, 11th at the WGC-Mexico Championship, and tied for 16th at the BMW Championship in a year that he collected $1.87 million. He tied for 21st in last year's U.S. Open. Casey is another guy that many people expect to be in the mix at Winged Foot, as he still is searching for his first major victory at the age of 43.
 

PHIL MICKELSON
Phil Mickelson will go down as one of the all-time PGA tour greats. Mickelson, 50, turned pro in 1992 and has 44 PGA tour victories and 51 overall professional wins. Mickelson has 196 top-10 finishes, including 37 runner-ups (many of which were in tournaments that Tiger Woods won).

Mickelson remains the greatest golf that ASU has seen. He won individual NCAA titles in 1989, 1990, and 1992, joining Ben Crenshaw as the second person to do that in NCAA history. Mickelson became just one of four players at the time in NCAA history to make first-team All-American all four years, as he won a school record of 16 tournaments. He remains a role model not only in ASU golf, but for all golfers with collegiate and professional dreams.

Mickelson last won on the Champions Tour, where he won the first tournament that he played in. He also tied for second at the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational, finihsed third at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and tied for 24th at the Travelers Championship, totaling nearly $1.5 million in 2020 earnings.

With runner-up U.S. Open finishes in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013, Mickelson has been so close so many times but just hasn't been able to pull through. Look for him to come out aggressive at Winged Foot.

MATT JONES
An honorable mention All-American in 1999-2000 and a first-team pick in 2001, Jones shot a record-matching 62 in the first round of the 41st annual Porter Cup on July 21, 1999, at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y. He played a big part of ASU's Pac-10 title team two years and also competed in three NCAA Championships. He shared medalist honors at the 2001 NCAA West Regional in Corvallis (May 17-19) after shooting an 8-under 208 (70-65-73). He has 25 top-10 finishes in his PGA career and won the 2014 Shell Houston Open and the 2015 and 2019 Emirates Australian Open. Advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs for a second consecutive season in 2019-20 and seventh overall, finishing the season No. 95 in the FedExCup standings. He made 16 cuts and recorded two top-10s in 23 starts.

(Author Brandon Jones is a senior studying sports journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication born in Detroit and then raised in Seattle).