By Charles Rich, email@example.com
9:51 PM EDT, September 5, 2012
Nine months into his rookie season, John Huh hasn't wasted time making the rounds on the PGA Tour. He's already captured national and international headlines, won a tournament in Mexico and qualified for the prestigious British Open and PGA Championship.
Most would be satisfied with those achievements. Not so for Huh, a 2008 Crescenta Valley High graduate who spent 2011 going through qualifying school before earning his PGA card in December in Palm Springs.
In between traveling from state to state and flying across international time zones to compete with the best the field offers, there's the matter of Huh constantly working on perfecting his long and short games before stepping on to a venue to compete with a smorgasbord of talent that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson.
Huh has been on television practically every week driving a tee shot and making his share of putts while trying to stay near the top of the leader board. He's holding up just fine — on the course and money list — after once spending parts of three seasons on the Korean Tour.
"I appreciate the things that have happened for me," said Huh, who helped Crescenta Valley win Pacific League championships in 2006 and 2007. "It's been a dream come true for me to play alongside some of the best golfers in the world and you have to enjoy every moment in this game.
"I didn't expect too much coming out of the Korean Tour and I'm pleased to have made it [to the PGA]. I appreciate the fans after making a shot and the sponsors. That said, you still have to go out there and improve every week to stay on top of your game."
At times, Huh, 22, has appeared to make it look easy. Through Monday, Huh has won the Mayakoba Golf Classic, registered three top-six finishes and made the cut in 19 of 25 events played.
In addition, he was one of three golfers to receive a berth into the British Open via a special exemption reserved for the top three and ties inside the top 20 in FedExCup points through the HP Byron Nelson Classic, which was held in May in Dallas. The British Open, one of four major championships, was held July 19–22 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England.
Huh shot a three-over-par 73 during the second round of the British Open on July 20. He registered a two-round score of 148 and missed the cut by five strokes. Huh finished in an eight-way tie for 126th in an event won by Els.
Huh, who has earned $2,381,413 this season, said he was prepared for the rigors before the championship began.
"The British Open was different, but it was fun and I learned quite a bit," said Huh, who finished tied for 27th — the number to qualify for a card — at the final stage of qualifying school and received exempt status after Roberto Castro and Mark Anderson already had earned their respective cards via the Nationwide Tour.
Huh fared much better at the 94th rendition of the PGA championship, which was held Aug. 9-12 at Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course in Kiawah, S.C. He finished tied for 68th after making the cut and netted $15,100.
Huh's breakthrough moment came in February in the Mayakoba Golf Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, Huh made a furious comeback to topple Robert Allenby of Australia in an eight-hole playoff. It proved to be an exhausting trek and one in which Huh, who briefly attended Cal State Northridge, needed to control his emotions and nerves on the par 71, 6,987-yard seaside course.
Allenby yielded a two-stroke advantage on the final hole of regulation, recording a par on the eighth extra hole. Huh, born in New York, finished with an eight-under-par 65 to catch Allenby at 13-under 271 before parring all eight holes in the playoff to equal the second-longest playoff in PGA Tour history.
It marked just the fifth time in tour history that a playoff went eight holes, with the last occurring at the Phoenix Open in 1983. The record is 11 holes, which came in the 1949 Motor City Open.
It was Huh's first victory since capturing the Shinhan Donghae Open on the Korean Tour in 2010.
"It was my first visit to Mexico and I didn't expect too much," said Huh, who ended the tournament on the 10th hole with a putt for par and reeled in $666,000. "I had some problems with my putting early in the tournament and I played well and got a little lucky in the final round.
"I made the late comeback and then I found myself in a playoff and looking at a chance to win my first event. I was nervous and I tried to calm down, but it was really hard to do. Getting my card was the greatest thing, but winning Mayakoba was right near there and it's something I'll always remember."
Allenby, who tied for seventh at the 2004 United States Open, praised Huh's comeback shortly after the playoff concluded.
"John's a great player," Allenby told Supersport.com. "I played with him [in the third round], and he's got a great future.
"He's a young guy, and all the best to him. It's great to see him win."
Huh moved to the area from Chicago, where he learned to perfect his game, and found himself on powerful Crescenta Valley squads coached by John Pehar. The Falcons featured a lineup that included Huh, Dominic Lingua, Justin Yu, Michael McKinley, Bill Varsh, Kory Barkley and Kevin Barkley.
With Huh in the lineup, the Falcons flourished.
"My time with him was brief, but he was a good player," Pehar said. "He didn't stand out and there were some good players on those teams.
"I'm happy for him that he's doing well on the PGA Tour. His goal was to get there and he did it. I see highlights of him. To be one of the top 100 players in the world says a lot. He can be on the tour for many years, if he keeps it up."
Huh competed in several American Junior Golf Assn. events and opted to forego his senior season at Crescenta Valley, which had won three straight league titles. He spent his senior year concentrating on academics and was offered a scholarship by CSUN. However, Huh needed to take several core classes in summer school at CSUN to be eligible to play for the Matadors.
Not knowing if his career would skyrocket — or end — Huh practiced with the Matadors while his case was looked at by the NCAA. His appeal was denied, leaving Huh to take a chance at turning pro in South Korea, where he once lived.
"I wanted to keep playing golf," said Huh, who finished tied for second with Matt Every at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio in April. "I wanted to have the opportunity to turn pro."