Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. – (July 21, 2006) Arizonans Philip Francis, 17, of Scottsdale, and Richard Lee, 15, of Chandler, both defeated past champions Friday to advance to the 36-hole championship final of the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
Francis, who has won the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Thunderbird Invitational already this summer, defeated 2004 Junior Amateur champion Sihwan Kim, in 20 holes in the quarterfinals, and then downed Andrew Putnam, 17, of Tacoma, Wash., 4 and 3, in the semifinals. His win over Kim was a re-match of last year’s third round, which Francis won in 19 holes.
“It’s great,” Francis said. “If I win this, it will be the Thunderbird, the Rolex and the U.S. Junior. Those are the three biggest tournaments in the country or the world for juniors. All in the same year would be amazing. To do that would be awesome. But, I’ve got to out there and do the same things I did in my last match.”
Lee, who won the younger divisions of the Junior Worlds and qualified for the 2005 U.S. Amateur at age 14, defeated defending champion Kevin Tway of Edmond, Okla., 1 up, after downing Danny Lee, 15, of New Zealand, 2 up, in the quarterfinals.
|Defending champion Kevin Tway watched a 4-up lead after seven holes get away in the semifinals against Richard Lee. (John Mummert/USGA)
A junior golf All-American bound for UCLA in 2007, Francis birdied three of his first four holes against Putnam en route to a 5-up advantage through five holes. However, Putnam countered with three consecutive birdies to cut the edge to just two holes through No. 8.
“I was 5 up after 5 holes but then it wasn’t that I messed up,” said Francis, who was the equivalent of 4-under-par in 15 holes with the usual match-play concessions. “He made three straight birdies on some of the tougher holes. He put a little fire in my butt to get going.”
Francis won the short, par-4 10th with a par and moved his lead to 3 up and halved the next four holes, including a win on the 15th, for the win. In his two matches Friday, he made nine birdies, one conceded eagle and two bogeys in 35 holes.
Tway, the son of 1986 PGA champion Bob, advanced to the semifinals and built a 4-up lead through seven holes against Lee. However, the Arizona 10th grader methodically worked his way back into the match.
Lee won three consecutive holes, two on bogeys by Tway, to close within one hole after 10.
Tway then birdied the 11th to move his advantage to two holes but faltered with double bogeys on the 13th and the 16th to move the match to all square.
On the par-3, 17th, Lee holed a 25-foot putt that broke 10 feet to gain his first lead.
“That’s a crazy putt,” he said. “It’s like one out of a 100. It was a great putt for sure. I got a great target. I got lucky on that one. It was the best shot ever in my life under pressure.”
The par-5, 18th was halved with pars and Lee’s comeback was complete.
|Wesley Graham fell to Kevin Tway in Friday's quarterfinals. (John Mummert/USGA)
“I had a really rough start, duck hooking it a couple of times,” Lee said of his early deficit. “I got it back together on the back nine. I’m going to try to win it. It’s exciting.”
Tway was attempting to become the first player to defend the Junior Amateur title since
Tiger Woods won three consecutive championships in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Woods is the only player to win multiple Junior Amateur titles.
“I’m going to treat it like another match, except it’s 36 holes long,” Francis said. “It’s going to be a battle of consistency. It’s whoever controls their misses, whoever makes the least mistakes.”
The championship match begins at 8 a.m. PDT with the first 18 holes. The second 18 holes is scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m.
The winner receives a gold medal and the custody of the Junior Amateur Championship Trophy for the ensuing year. The finalists are also exempt from qualifying for the 2006 U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., in August.
All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo., near Kansas City, July 23-28.
The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are solely for amateurs. Past champions include Tiger Woods (1991, 1992, 1993), David Duval (1989), Gay Brewer (1949) and Mason Rudolph (1950).
Story written by Pete Kowalski of USGA Media Relations. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.
Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. – Results from quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur, conducted by the United States Golf Association, played at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club (6,936 yards, par 72):
Richard Lee, Chandler, Ariz. (149) d. Danny Lee, New Zealand (146), 2 up
Kevin Tway, Edmond, Okla. (143) d. Wesley Graham, Port Orange, Fla. (140), 2 and 1
Philip Francis, Scottsdale, Ariz. (137) d. Sihwan Kim, Buena Park, Calif. (141), 20 holes
Andrew Putnam, University Place, Wash. (146) d. Bud Cauley, Jacksonville, Fla. (148), 1 up
R. Lee d. Tway, 1 up
Francis d. Putnam, 4 and 3
Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. – Pairing for the 36-hole championship final round of match play at the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur, conducted by the United States Golf Association, played at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club (6,936 yards, par 72): Times PDT
8:00 a.m/12:45 p.m. -- Richard Lee, Chandler, Ariz. (149) vs. Philip Francis, Scottsdale, Ariz. (137)