BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — Jordan Spieth and Amy Anderson were the best players in stroke play during the USGA boys’ and girls’ Junior Amateur Championships and nothing changed during match play.
Spieth posted a 4 and 3 victory over Jay Hwang of San Diego to win the boys’ title and Anderson defeated Kimberly Kim of Hilo, Hawaii, 6 and 5 for the girls’ championship in 36-hole matches on the New Course at the Trump National Golf Club on Saturday.
The victory by Spieth wasn’t surprising. The 15-year-old Dallas resident lost in the semifinals last year in this event for 17-year-olds and under. Anderson, 17, was a total surprise. The native of Oxbow, N.D. – a town of 300 that is 10 miles south of Fargo – plays golf roughly five months.
“I think this is proof you don’t have to live in Florida to be able to do well in golf,” said the home-schooled Anderson, who will be attending North Dakota State.
The triumphs by Spieth and Anderson marked the first time since 1991 that the stroke play medalists from the first two days of the tournament have gone on to survive the match play phase.
Tiger Woods beat Brad Zwetschke at Bay Hill in Florida for the boys title that year, his first USGA title. Emilee Klein defeated Kimberly Marshall at Crestview Country Club in Wichita, Kan., for the girls title.
The win puts Spieth’s name on a trophy that was won by Woods for three straight years.
“I thought about that all day today,” said Spieth, who will be a junior at Dallas Jesuit High School. “I thought about everyone’s name on there, not just Tiger. You know (David) Duval and players who won it recently like Cory (Whitsett in 2007) and Cameron (Peck last year). They’re still improving and they are amazing players.”
One up with eight holes to play in the afternoon round, Spieth rolled in birdies at Nos. 11, 13 and 14 holes to take command.
Spieth got a conceded birdie at No. 11 when he hit a wedge to 2 feet and Hwang failed to make his birdie from 15 feet. He pumped his fist when another birdie rolled in at 13th and then he went 4-up when Hwang’s tee shot on the par-3, No. 14 went in the water.
Spieth closed out his first USGA championship by sinking an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 15 to halve the hole.
Spieth had trouble putting his victory into words, saying it was simply unbelievable.
“This tournament is so hard to win,” he said. “You have to play great golf six days in a row, and it’s just so tough to do that when you run into anyone who is just careering it in one round.”
Spieth had to go 19 holes in his second-round match and he was a 1 up winner in both his quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
Hwang, a 16-year-old who has been playing golf for only five years, couldn’t catch a break with his putter.
“I missed a couple of short putts and I don’t think he missed any putts inside 10 feet,” Hwang said.
Anderson was 2 up after the morning round and she took control winning three of the first four holes in the afternoon. Putting was the difference.
Anderson made a 10-footer at No. 2 to halve the hole, sank a 12-foot birdie at No. 3 and then won No. 4 when Kim three-putted from 8 feet. She also halved the fifth, seventh and ninth holes with par-saving putts.
By that point, Anderson was 6-up and cruising.
“I felt good about my swing,” Anderson said. “I felt good about my putting. I mean, unless I completely lost it, I felt like I had a really good chance, and I was playing very well.”
Anderson just smiled as she left a 20-foot birdie putt on the edge of the 13th hole to close out her match with Kim, who in 2006 become the youngest women to capture the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Kim, who was competing in her fourth USGA final, was trying to become the first player to win the junior amateur after winning the Amateur.
“She played like consistent but I wasn’t really paying attention because I played so bad,” said Kim, who also lost the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links final earlier this year.