Jay Paris: Torrey Pines’ Yang caps SDSU career at NCAA Championships

The voice was loud and clear even if the request was dumb and dumber.

“Some guy in the crowd yells, ‘Go in the hole!’ after I hit it,’’ Gunn Yang said. “I’m like, ‘Dude, there is no way I can put this ball in the hole from 218 yards out, in the playoffs.’’’

Whoa, if Yang’s shot didn’t follow the dude’s instructions.

Yang’s recent albatross 2 on the par-5 hole helped push the San Diego State Aztecs into this week’s NCAA Championships. Yang’s incredible aim in the Albuquerque Regional helped eliminate Texas A&M and it came after he birdied two of the final four holes in regulation.

But dang, Yang, an albatross?

“It was the best shot I have ever witnessed under the circumstances,” SDSU coach Ryan Donovan said.

Yang, a Torrey Pines High graduate, grinned.

“I didn’t even know it went in,’’ he said. “I was too far away and I don’t have that good of eyesight.’’

Yang now focuses on the NCAA Championships at the Eugene (Ore.) Country Club with a sense of finality. It’s his last match for the Aztecs before turning pro next fall.

That he returned this year surprised many after his stunning win at the 2014 U.S. Open Amateur.

With that title came invitations to the play the Masters, six PGA Tour events and other tournaments around the world.

“I had a great year, meeting a lot of good players and top professionals,’’ Yang said. “I learned a lot from guys like Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson.’’

The final two were in his Masters group last year. Yang didn’t leave with the green jacket but his experience left others green with envy.

“He’s been in some pretty big moments,’’ Donovan said.

But this year they’ve been sporadic.

It was an uneven season for Yang, 22, as he finished fifth on the team with a 72.74 round average.

His game was so unpredictable he didn’t make the Mountain West Championship lineup.

“I was working on my swing and it didn’t work out in the spring season,’’ Yang said. “But toward the end of the season my game is getting better and better and now I’m really ready for the nationals. Everyone on the team is ready.’’

Ready or not, Yang will bid adieu to SDSU.

“It’s a little bit sad,’’ he said. “It will be my last collegiate event and hopefully I can pull something out with the team and as individual.’’

By himself is how Yang hop scotched around the world in last year’s whirlwind of appearances — well, with a caddy in tow.

But compared to yucking it up with his SDSU crew, the road of pro golf isn’t as forgiving.

“When traveling by yourself you feel a little lonely,’’ Yang said. “It’s a lot more fun traveling with the team and coaches.

“It’s an incredible feeling with college golf being a team sport. If one player doesn’t play well you got to pick him up and play better. It’s about the team achievement.’’

Yang’s squad is gunning for an NCAA title, in part, because of his incredible shot in the regionals.

“The funny thing is I never had an official hole in one in a tournament,’’ he said.

“But officially I have an albatross and that’s better than a hole in one.’’

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.


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