Nice birthday gift to self: a spot in British Open

March 18, 2010

Eric Chun took a break from studying for two finals and writing papers for his Public Speaking and Team Leadership classes by winning a spot in the British Open.

Not a bad extracurricular activity for the Northwestern sophomore.

Chun flew to Malaysia to compete in an International Final Qualifying event and to defy the math. Seventy-one players would fight for four spots. Chun was one of two amateurs in the field.

He laid up to 75 yards on the par-5 18th, knowing he needed to make birdie to avoid a four-man playoff. That yardage would have made Chun chuckle if he weren't so petrified.

"The sweetest thing is that in my practice round, I told my caddie from the same spot: 'Let's imagine I have to get up and down from here to make it (to the Open).' And that's exactly what happened."

Chun fought off the nerves - "my hands were literally shaking" - long enough to drain the 6-foot downhill putt that earned his place in the 150th Open - at St. Andrews, no less.

"I've seen it on television," he said. "To play there will be amazing."

Chun counts former Northwestern star Luke Donald as a mentor. Chun said the two have similar length but that Donald's bad rounds are about even par "and mine can go 4- to 6-over (par)."

NU coach Pat Goss agreed, adding Chun's strength is his mental toughness.

The South Korean native turned 20 while in Malaysia. He spent the day practicing and ate dinner alone.

"That's OK," Chun said. "The reward will be playing the Open."

Chip shots: The IT management software company CA announced Wednesday it will not sponsor the World Golf Championships after this season. This after Farmers Insurance re-upped with the PGA Tour for its annual event at Torrey Pines. … The Masters will show 10 hours of action in 3D, with Comcast serving as the distribution partner. How might a Tiger Woods fist pump look?

- Teddy Greenstein

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