June 18, 2018
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Chung beats Van Sickle on fourth playoff hole to win Greater Bangor Open in record-setting effort

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Fourteen months ago, David Chung was receiving a high-five from PGA Tour Hall-of-Famer Billy Casper and getting his golf ball signed by him after Casper had witnessed Chung’s hole-in-one during a golf outing in North Carolina.

On Saturday, Chung was receiving high-fives from friends and onlookers after winning the 48th annual Greater Bangor Open Golf Tournament on the fourth playoff hole over Mike Van Sickle.

It was believed to be the longest playoff in GBO history.

The 24-year-old Chung, who is from Fayetteville, North Carolina, and was an All-American at Stanford University, sank a 30-foot putt on the third extra hole to help extend the playoff and took advantage of the 27-year-old Van Sickle’s only errant drive of the tournament on the fourth extra hole to pocket the $9,000 winner’s check.

Van Sickle took home a check for $5,000.

Van Sickle hooked his drive into the woods on the 393-yard par-four seventh hole and it took him three shots to chip out of the woods.

“It stinks to hit one bad drive all week and have it come on the 22nd hole of the day,” said Van Sickle, a native of Wexford, Pennsylvania, who won the long drive competition on Wednesday with a drive of 353 yards. “I released it a little too soon and turned it over. I thought I might be near the edge of the woods but I was just far enough in there and the ball was up against a bush. I tried to chip it out, but I couldn’t manage it.”

Meanwhile, Chung methodically parred the hole with a safe chip to the green and a two-putt.

“This is awesome,” said Chung. “This is my first time in Maine and I’m loving it so far.

“Mike played some great golf today. He was bombing his drives. It was impressive to watch. We had a nice round out there. We got along well,” added Chung.

Each shot a four-under par 65 over the 54 holes to finish with a GBO record 191, which is 16-under par.

Scott Hawley of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, had owned the previous record of 194 set in 2010, the same year Chung reached the final of the U.S. Amateur Golf Tournament where he lost to Peter Uihlein 4-and-2. Uihlein was the world’s top-ranked amateur at the time.

Jesse Larson of Mendon, Vermont, wound up third at 194 after a two-under-par 67 and took home $3,200 with Bangor’s Jesse Speirs finishing fourth at 196 and Windham’s Shawn Warren ending up fifth at 198 after a blistering eight-under-par 61. Speirs shot a 66 on Saturday.

Speirs won $2,700 and Warren pocketed $2,000.

Chung and Van Sickle entered the final day tied for the lead, one shot ahead of Larson.

Van Sickle, a three-time All-American at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took a one-shot lead over Chung at the 318-yard par-four 13th hole by driving the green, lagging a 30-foot putt to within a foot of the cup and tapping in for a birdie.

Chung parred the hole after chipping 15 feet past the hole and leaving his birdie putt 5 feet short.

But Chung moved into a first-place tie with Van Sickle with a birdie courtesy of a nice chip and big-breaking 5-foot putt while Van Sickle slid his 7-foot birdie putt just left of the hole. Larson fell three shots off the lead by bogeying the hole when he chunked his chip shot from 50 yards out, leaving it short of the green, and eventually missing a downhill 7-foot par putt.

“I knew that putt on the 17th was for the tournament,” said Chung. “Mike made a birdie on 13 and I didn’t. So I knew I had to make a birdie coming down the stretch to match him and, luckily, I did.”

He pointed out that it would have been difficult to birdie 18 “especially with the (pin placement).”

Van Sickle appeared in trouble on the 18th when his chip landed on the side of the hill next to the bunker and he sliced his chip shot, leaving himself 12 feet from the hole. But he came through by sinking the testy putt for his par to match Chung’s par.

On the third extra hole, a beautiful chip by Van Sickle to within 8 feet of the hole put the pressure on Chung, who needed to nail a 30-foot putt or have to stand by and watch Van Sickle putt for the win.

And he did.

“I had that putt earlier today and I missed it a little left so I knew I had to aim it a little more right,” said Chung. “I had to hit it on a certain line and, luckily, it went in.”

“I had a feeling he was going to make that,” said Van Sickle. “He had that same exact putt this morning and knew what it was going to do. He was stroking it great all day. All his putts were on line. It was a great putt. Then I had to make my 8-footer (to extend the tournament).”

Van Sickle lamented his missed birdie putts on 15 and 17. His 12-footer on 15 curled inches wide to the right of the cup.

“It was a little frustrating to look back at those putts on 15 and 17. If I could have made one of those, it would have been in my hands to see what happens. But I made a good putt on 18 to keep it going,” said Van Sickle who, like Chung, had never been to Maine until this week.

Chung said the key to the win over the three days was patience.

“There are birdies out there but if you press too hard, you aren’t going to make them,” said Chung. “You had to stay patient, give yourself (birdie) opportunities and capitalize on a few if you could.”

Hampden native John Hickson, the 1997 GBO winner, shot a 203 to win the Senior Professional by three shots over Marc Hurtubise of Chambly, Quebec, and Josh Landine of Fredericton, New Brunswick, was the low amateur with a 213, eight shots better than Connor Murphy of West Barnstable, Massachusetts, who plays for Duke University.

The 29-year-old Larson birdied three of the first four holes to take a one-shot lead over Chung and Van Sickle but he played one-over par the rest of the way.

“I got some good looks below the hole but I misread the putts,” said Larson, who finished second last year.

Speirs, who won the 2011 GBO. said he “hit the ball pretty well and got off to a good start. But I left some putts short.”

Warren, the 2008 GBO winner, had eight birdies on the warm, breezy day and his 61 would have tied for the course record if Van Sickle hadn’t shot a 60 on Thursday.


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