La Jolla: U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang will use the Farmers Insurance Open to acclimatise to golf at the highest level as part of his preparations for the Masters and U.S. and British Opens.
The 21-year-old South Korean took down Canadian Corey Conners in the final of the U.S. Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club last year before deciding to take a one-year leave of absence from college to concentrate on his golf opportunities.
Invites to play in professional events have flooded in for the San Diego State student, who is exempt for the first three majors of the year provided he remains an amateur.
Yang will look to test his game against the best at Torrey Pines this week in his first PGA Tour start.
“I’m just trying to play the best golf I can, because this is the first PGA Tour event for me so I’m a little bit nervous,” Yang said.
“Especially in this area (media interviews), it`s not a familiar area, so just trying to get used to the atmosphere and just trying and prepare for the Masters.”
While he missed the cut at the KJ Choi Invitational on the Asian Tour, the Japan Open on the Japan Golf Tour and the Australian Open on the PGA Tour of Australasia he finished fourth at the New South Wales Open late last year.
This week is a massive step up in class with 19 of the world’s top 50 players in the field.
Yang, who lives in the San Diego area and grew up practicing at Torrey Pines, was a little shocked to see how different the set up is for the event.
"It`s really tough. I`ve never played Torrey Pines in this kind of good shape and also never seen the rough this thick before,” he said.
“My game has been improving. I`ve been putting pretty well. I played with Adam Scott in the Japan Open and that`s when I realised that I need to really work on my long game consistency wise. I’ve been doing that pretty well.”
While most amateurs cannot wait to turn professional Yang expects to return to college.
“If I`m improving and if I can keep up with these big boys, then maybe I can turn pro after that but I want to get the degree first.”