2015 Eastern Amateur winner James Clark
(Photo courtesy of the Eastern Amateur)
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — James Clark, a Columbus, Ga. native, birdied the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to capture the 59th Eastern Amateur Championship on Sunday.
Clark, who will begin his sophomore season at Georgia Tech this August, rolled in a seven-footer to defeat Hartford University graduate Danny Yustin.
Clark said his last big win was in high school when as a sophomore he won an AJGA Junior All-Stars event.
"I've played well but haven't broken through and gotten the big win," Clark said. "It's good to finally get that top number."
After shooting 68 in round one at Elizabeth Manor Golf & Country Club, which featured two birdies and no bogeys, Clark went bogey free again on Friday for a 64 to take the lead. Then, after playing his first four holes of round three, heavy rains and thunderstorms suspended play for the day and sent the players to Sunday with a shortened event.
Clark finished up his final 14 holes at three-under to post 66 in the final round, while Yustin stormed back to shoot 62 and join Clark in extra holes.
In the playoff, both players found the fairway on the par-4 first hole and came up short on the fringe to make easy two-putt pars.
With irons off the tee on the short par-4 second hole, Yustin found the fairway while Clark settled a few yards back in the rough. Clark’s lie was good and he hit his approach directly over the flag from 105 yards, spinning back to seven feet below the hole. Yustin came up short of the green from 100 yards, but chipped close for a tap-in par.
But it was Clark's time, as he stepped up and knocked in the birdie putt to claimed the championship.
"I've worked a lot to get to where I am now so it was a great reliever," he said.
Clark was part of the 2015 ACC Champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, shooting an even-par 72 in the final round to help the team reach sudden-death playoff with Clemson for the title.
Mid-amateur player Adam Horton grabbed third place, shooting 64 in the final round despite making double on the final hole. A birdie for the Chesapeake, Va. native would have placed him in the playoff as the third contestant.
ABOUT THE Eastern Amateur
The Eastern Amateur is a 72 hole stroke play
event that perennially attracts a top-drawer field.
The tournament has been
played -- with the exception of 1977 and 1999 -- at
Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club. Elizabeth
Manor is a par 70 Dick Wilson design in Portsmouth,
The impressive list of winners includes U.S. Open
winners Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, Andy Bean,
Hubert Green, Jim Furyk and Steve Jones. Other
notables who have played in the Eastern Amateur
are Lanny Wadkins, Arron Oberholser, Steve Marino,
Scott Hoch, Clarence Rose, Gary Koch, Bob Tway,
John Rollins, Fred Funk, Carl Petterson, Chip Beck,
Jim Simons, Ben Crenshaw, Steve Melnyk, Andy
Bean and Steve Liebler. Liebler won the who the
Eastern in three different decades and is the only
golfer to have ever qualified for the USGA Junior,
USGA Amateur, USGA Open, USGA Public Links,
USGA Senior Open and USGA Senior Amateur as well
as representing his state in the USGA Team
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