U.S. Junior Am: Bozzelli, Beck lead as rain delays semis

SHOAL CREEK, Ala. (July 25, 2008)--Fourteen-year-old Jordan Spieth of Dallas, Texas, moved a step closer Friday to becoming the youngest champion in the history of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. He won his morning quarterfinal match over Andrew Yun of Chandler, Ariz., 3 & 2, but now trails Evan Beck, 17, of Virginia Beach, Va., by two holes through 14 holes in his afternoon semifinal match.

Spieth, who is playing match play for the first time, never trailed against Yun, and held a 4-up lead after nine holes.

“I almost let him back in it,” said Spieth, who is looking to unseat Tiger Woods as the youngest champion in the event’s 61-year history. “I was fortunate that he didn’t have enough holes left. I knew he would make a charge. I just wanted to be ahead by enough that it wouldn’t matter.”

Woods was 15 years old when he won the first of his three consecutive Junior titles in 1991.

Beck, who was an alternate for the starting field of 156 players, rallied to beat Ernesto Marin, 17, of Miami, Fla., in his quarterfinal, 1 up. He took the match with a winning par on the final hole.

The other semifinal match features Cameron Peck, 17, of Olympia, Wash., against Dominic Bozzelli, 17, of Pittsford, N.Y. Bozzelli is 1-up through 13 holes.

Peck jumped out to an early lead and defeated the top-ranked Argentinean amateur Emiliano Grillo, 5 & 4, in his morning match. Bozzelli came back from three holes down after 13 holes to beat Andrew Steinhofer, 17, of Madison, Wis., with a par on the first extra hole.

“I was playing really good,” said Peck. “I got up fast. He was getting frustrated and I think he tried to force things.”

--Courtesy Craig Smith, USGA

ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur

While it is not the oldest competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is considered the premier junior competition, having been around since 1948. The event is open to male golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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