SHOAL CREEK, Ala. (July 26, 2008)--Evan Beck, 17, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Cameron Peck, 17, of Olympia, Wash., each won two matches Friday to reach Saturday’s 36-hole championship final at the U.S. Junior Amateur at Shoal Creek Golf Course.
Beck, who was an alternate in the starting field of 156 players, never trailed in beating 14-year-old Jordan Spieth of Dallas, Texas, in his semifinal match. He was 4-up after eight holes on the 7,251-yard, par 72 course and closed the match, 1-up. Spieth was aiming to become the youngest champion in 61 years of the Junior Amateur.
“I’m happy I don’t have to try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur now,” said Beck. “I’ve been playing well all summer, and I’ve been under par every round this week. I definitely didn’t think I was going to be in the finals.”
Both finalists are exempted into next month’s U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C.
After being down, Spieth rallied. He won holes 14 and 15 with long birdie putts, closing the gap to 1-down, but he didn’t get any closer.
“I didn’t think it was going to stop after he made those two 30-footers for birdie out there,” said Beck, who also is an All-Tidewater Conference scholastic basketball player at guard.
Beck rallied to beat Ernesto Marin, 17, of Miami, Fla., in his morning quarterfinal, 1-up. He took the match with a winning par on the final hole.
Peck spotted Dominic Bozzelli, 17, of Pittsford, N.Y., a 3-up lead after 10 holes in his semifinal match before charging back to take three of the last four holes. He won it with a par on the second extra hole.
Peck started his run with a 2-putt birdie on the 536-yard, par-5 17th. He hit a 4-iron from 205 yards to 15 feet.
“I knew it was either do or die on 17,” said Peck. “I knew he was probably going to make at least a par there. And when I won hole 18 I said, ‘I’m finally even and I have a chance.’'"
Peck did not have the lead until it mattered most – at the end.
In his morning match, Peck beat Argentina’s top-ranked amateur, 17-year-old Emiliano Grillo, 5 & 4.
The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
--Story by Craig Smith, USGA
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