Flawless: Duff runs away from field at the Jacksonville Amateur
- Jacksonville Area Golf Association photo
- Jacksonville Area Golf Association photo

2020 Florida Times-Union high school golfer of the year Jason Duff fired afinal-round 64 at Deerwood Country Club today to totally distance himself from the rest of thefield and win the 61st playing of the Jacksonville Amateur Championship conducted by theJacksonville Area Golf Association.

Duff, who is about to enter his sophomore year at the University of North Florida, carded 66-71-64—201 for his three trips around the 7,093-yard, par-72 layout, and in so doing, set andthen reset his previous competitive low round of 67.

“It was as close to a flawless round of golf as I’ve ever seen,” said co-runner-up Johnny Watts of Jacksonville.

Watts, who recently regained his amateur status after a stint on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, andLuke Cusick of St. Augustine shared second with 4-under-par 212 totals.

Another shot back at 213 were UNF assistant men’s golf coach Jeff Dennis and Uruguay’s topamateur Agustin Tarigo, who is on his way to Chicago to compete in this coming week’s 120thWestern Amateur.

Defending champion Smith finished at even-par 216, good for a tie for ninth.

Duff entered the final round with only a two-shot lead over Watts and Osborn Theam ofJacksonville, with Dennis three back. The lead was three when Creekside grad Andrew Rileyeagled the par-5 seventh. Playing in the group behind Riley, Duff countered with a birdie.From there, the champion stepped on the gas and left his fellow competitors in the rearviewmirror, adding birdies on Nos. 8, 11 and 12 and an eagle on No. 13, before closing with fivestraight pars for a bogey-free 32-32—64.

Duff did not miss a fairway and only missed two greens – the ninth by two paces and the 18th, where he got it up and down from a back bunker.

The championship was blessed with three days of excellent mid-summer weather – sunny, light breezes, 90-degree temperatures, and most importantly, no pop-up storms.

The contestants raved about the condition of the Deerwood layout, with the consensus being,“Deerwood was in the best shape I’ve ever seen it.”

Since 2000, the collective performance in the Amateur of current and former University ofNorth Florida golfers has bordered on domination, particularly in the last four years. Only MikeSmith’s win last year interrupted the Osprey run (Jordan Batchelor/2019, Cody Carroll/2020,Duff/2022). Dating back to 2000, golfers with UNF roots have won the Amateur seven times inthe last 12 years, and 10 in all.

While complete records are not available, Duff’s 15-under-par winning score is the lowest since Sean Dale won in 2011 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club with 17-under played over 72 holes.

The largest winning margin in recent years was nine by A.J. Crouch at Sawgrass Country Club in 2012.

Duff’s 64 is believed to be the second-best round in Jacksonville Amateur history, bettered only by Smith’s 63 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club’s Lagoon course in 2012.

Though just 20, Duff is no stranger to his fellow competitors on the Northeast Florida golfscene. While attending Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine, he captured the State 2A individual title in 2019 and that same year was named Florida Times-Union high school golfer of the Year. As a freshman at UNF this past year, the Elkton resident earned ASUN Conference freshman of the year honors.

One of the area’s more distinguished golfers, Bob Dickson of Ponte Vedra Beach and TPCSawgrass, served as honorary starter on Saturday. Among his accomplishments on both theamateur and professional levels, the Oklahoma native is one of only four men to win the U.S.Amateur and British Amateur in the same year (1967). As a TOUR professional, he made sixGreater Jacksonville Open starts at Deerwood, with a T8 in 1975 and a T12 in 1969 his best.

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ABOUT THE Jacksonville Amateur

54-hole stroke play tournament with a 36-hole cut to the low half of the field plus ties. Open to those players with an index of 6.0 or less. There will be a maximum of 78 players in the field. The majority of players reside in JAGA’s North Florida region, with entries accepted from up to 15 players who reside outside the region (in Florida and elsewhere).

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