WHEATON, IL (July 21, 2006) -- Six hours earlier, Hack had birdied the same par 4, 410-yard hole to close out his rain-delayed third round and take a one-stroke, 54-hole lead over Scott Langley. Langley, playing in the final group with Hack, suffered the short end of a three-shot swing on the hole when he hit his tee shot into a grove of trees and took a double bogey.
“That was the big turning point in whole tournament,” said Hack, a senior at Circle Christian High School in Orlando. “That hole won the tournament for me. I holed out for eagle there Wednesday and birdied it twice today. I was 4-under there for the week.”
Hack won the championship by three strokes over Langley, 17, of Ballwin, Mo., who finished second after opening with a 6-under-par 66 on Tuesday and leading through most of the second and third rounds.
“I feel great right now. It all happened so fast,” said Hack, who finished second at the The Mirasol Junior Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in June. “It’s been a long week. I’m happy it’s over and happy I won. I’m going to go home and sleep, and celebrate tomorrow.”
Hack, 16, Lake Mary, Fla., kept the lead once he overtook Langley on the 54th hole, building it to six strokes after a birdie on the par 4, 410-yard, 10th. He closed the tournament with an even par 72 for a 72-hole total of 281. Langley and Andres Echavarria, 18, Bradenton, Fla., carded final round 73s to finish two and three strokes back.
“This was a great course and a great tournament,” said Hack, who is 20th in Golfweek’s junior rankings. “I’ll definitely come back next year.”
Langley agreed his double bogey on 18 to close out the third round was the turning point. “I made a bad swing off the tee,” he said.
He also expects to return for the 2007 Western Junior following his bittersweet finish at Cantigny. “I’m just a little disappointed, but not too much. I came pretty close to winning, and second place isn’t too bad,” said Langley, who placed fourth in the 2005 Missouri State High School 4A championship. “I don’t feel like I really lost it. Jhared played solid. You have to hand it to him.
“I’m not going to have any regrets,” he added. “I’m going to go home, work my butt off and do better next time.”
Echavarria, ranked 12th by Golfweek, had several opportunities to close Hack’s lead in the final round but couldn’t take advantage. “I didn’t hit the ball that well today and some putts didn’t go in,” he said. “It’s a big field and a big tournament. Overall, I’m happy.
Mu Hu, 16, of Celebration, Fla., who opened the championship with a course record 64, shot a 2-over-par 74 Friday to finish fourth at 286, one stroke behind Echavarria. Hu is 10th in Golfweek’s rankings.
The Western Junior Championship, conducted by the Western Golf Association, is the oldest national junior tournament in the United States and has been a testing ground for future stars, such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Ben Curtis, Jeff Maggert and Fuzzy Zoeller.
Designed by renowned architect Roger Packard, Cantigny was named Best New Public Course in America by Golf Digest when it opened in 1989. The course is located on the estate of Robert R. McCormick, former publisher of the Chicago Tribune.
For complete results, click on the tournament link above.