Duluth, Ga. – With a 2-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole, Charlie Beljan of Mesa, Ariz. defeated Zac Reynolds of Edmond, Okla., in the 18-hole final match of the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course.
Hear an audio interview with 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Charlie Beljan.
CHARLIE BELJAN, 17, of Mesa, Ariz., who is playing in his first Junior Amateur, is a rising senior at Red Mountain High School, where he and the team won the class 5A Arizona championship. Whenever he plays golf, he “always plays with (his) shoes untied.” His low competitive round is a 64 at Junior World qualifying, where he placed 25th at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Calif. An honorable mention all-FCWT choice, he was fourth at the FCWT this year playing Doral G.C.’s Blue Monster. In 2002, he also lists a 6th-place finish at the Southwest Amateur. Beljan, who began playing golf at age 9, already has two holes-in-one to his credit, both at Alta Mesa C.C. He is 6-2, 210.
As 156 juniors from around the world compete in the 55th U.S. Junior Amateur, so many others in less public positions are making the Championship appear effortless.
Duluth, Ga. -- The second round of stroke play at the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club was suspended at 2:31 p.m. due to lightning and rain but resumed at 5:10 p.m. At the time of suspension no one in the field had completed the second round, but 60 players had returned 9-hole scores.
State By State -- Forty-one states are represented in the 2002 Junior Amateur. California has the most contestants with 18, followed by Texas and Ohio, which both have 12. Other states with more than five entries include Florida (9), North Carolina (7), Georgia, (6) and Pennsylvania (6).
San Antonio -- Henry Liaw, 15, of Rowland Heights, Calif., captured the 54th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, 2 and 1, over Richard Scott, 17, of Ontario, Canada, at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas.
The national championship for junior golfers will be held in Georgia from July 23 through July 27. The 55th playing of the U.S. Junior Amateur will be conducted by the United States Golf Association at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Duluth, Ga., home of The Highlands Course, where just last August, the world’s top professionals competed for the PGA Championship.
CHAMPIONSHIP FACT SHEET
July 23-27, 2002
Atlanta Athletic Club
PAR AND YARDAGE - Atlanta Athletic Club (Highlands Course) will play at 7,008 yards and par is 35-35-70.
THE ARCHITECT - Designed by Robert Trent Jones (back nine in 1967) and Joseph Finger (front nine in 1971), the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club opened in 1967. Revisions have been made by George and Tom Fazio (1974), Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay (1987), and Rees Jones (1995).
ENTRIES - The championship is open to amateur golfers who will not have reached their 18th birthday on or before July 27, 2002, and who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 6.4. Entries closed June 5.
FREE ADMISSION - Spectators are invited to attend the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship free of charge. Spectators are invited to walk the fairways behind the players, but no cameras are allowed during the days of competition.
THE SCHEDULE -
Low 64 scorers advance to match play
USGA TOLL-FREE INTERVIEW HOTLINE - The 2002 winner will be featured on the USGA Audio Hotline on Saturday, July 27. Call (888) 321-8742. The interview will be broadcast quality and about four minutes in length.
USGA ON THE WEB - Log on to the USGA internet site at www.usga.org for the latest and most complete Junior Amateur Championship information.
REAL TIME SCORING - A web site will be provided with the most up-to-date information in scoring during all rounds of the championship. During stroke play and the first round of match play, scores will be posted after nine holes every five minutes. During the balance of match play, scores will be posted hole-by-hole for each match every five minutes. Please visit www.usga.org.
DEFENDING CHAMPION - Henry Liaw (pronounced LOW as in pow), 15, of Rowland Heights, Calif., will attempt to become the only player besides Tiger Woods to successfully defend his U.S. Junior Amateur title.
In 2001, Liaw defeated Richard Scott, 17, of Ontario, Canada, 2 and 1, at the 6,613-yard, par-71 Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD AND QUALIFYING ROUNDS - A total of 153 players, age 17-and-under at the Championship proper, must survive 36-hole sectional qualifying at 66 sites around the nation from June 17-July 2. The field includes three exempt players for a total of 156.
The closest qualifying site to Atlanta AC was at Cherokee Town and C.C. on June 25. Chris Kirk of Woodstock was the medalist at 137, followed by Timothy Freund of Reynolds Plantation, Roberto Castro of Alpharetta and Joe Shirley of Atlanta at 139.
EXEMPTIONS - Two of the four semifinalists from 2001 return: defending champion Henry Liaw of Rowland Heights, Calif. and Chanin Puntawong of Bradenton, Fla. They are exempt from sectional qualifying. Other exempt categories are: any player who has qualified for the U.S. Open (Derek Tolan of Highlands Ranch, Colo.), any player who has qualified for match play in a U.S. Amateur and finalists from the most recent U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship (if otherwise eligible).
THE CHAMPION RECEIVES -
ENTRIES - A total of 3,827 entries were accepted in 2002. In 1999, a record 4,508 entries were accepted for this championship, beating by 420 the previous record of 4,088 set in 1998.
COURSE SET-UP - For the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur, the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club will be set up to the following USGA championship standards:Fairways 3/8"
Collars 3/8" and approximately 30" wide
Greens "firm and fast" to height necessary to obtain a measurement of approximately 11’ on the USGA Stimpmeter
Intermediate rough 1¼"
Primary rough 3"
CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE HOLE BY HOLE - The Highlands Course will measure 7,008 yards and play to par 70.
PROMINENT PLAYERS IN U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR HISTORY -Gay Brewer - Champion in 1949
David Duval - Champion in 1989
Al Geiberger - Runner-up in 1954
Gary Koch - Champion in 1970
Johnny Miller - Champion in 1964
Andy North - Runner-up in 1967
Jay Sigel - Runner-up in 1961
Scott Simpson - Runner-up in 1972
Ken Venturi - Runner-up in 1948
Willie Wood - Champion in 1977
Tiger Woods - Champion in 1991, 1992, and 1993
HISTORY - The USGA inaugurated the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1948 to determine the best junior golfer in the United States and also to help junior golfers learn how to realize the most from the game, win or lose.
The Junior Amateur was hardly the first junior competition to attract a national field. The Western Junior had been established in 1914. In 1946, two more competitions appeared, each with a claim on the national title. One was sponsored by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce, the other by the Hearst Newspapers.
The first Junior Amateur was played at the University of Michigan Golf Course and drew 495 entries. The starting field of 128 players was determined by sectional qualifying rounds at 41 sites. Dean Lind of Rockford, Ill., was the first champion. Lind defeated Ken Venturi, of San Francisco, a future U.S. Open champion, in the final.
By 1963, entries had surged to 2,230, a record for the 14th consecutive year. At the time, there was no handicap limitation for entrants. That changed in 1964 when a handicap limit of 10 strokes was introduced.
In 1978, the USGA conducted the Junior Amateur over the South Course of the Wilmington (Del.) Country Club, while the Girls’ Junior was being staged on the North Course. This was the first time the USGA conducted two national championships simultaneously at the same golf club. The 2000 Championships were conducted simultaneously as well.
The Junior Amateur is among the most difficult of all USGA championships to win, because of two factors: the age limit and the tremendous number of fine young players who enter each year. Only one player, Tiger Woods, has won the Junior Amateur more than once, winning in 1991, 1992, and 1993. In fact, only five players have reached the finals more than once. Woods, who was 15 years, six months, and 28 days old when he won in 1991, remains the youngest champion.
The Junior Amateur remains today an educational opportunity as well as a competitive outlet. Pre-championship players’ dinners have attracted guest speakers such as Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, and Johnny Miller, all willing to share their knowledge and experience with young players.
MORE HISTORICAL NOTES - The Junior Amateur is the only USGA championship for which Jack Nicklaus has been eligible that he did not win at least once. Nicklaus qualified five times but his best finish came in 1956 when he was a semifinalist.
The youngest contestant was Verner Stanley, who was 12 years old when he played in 1952. Kevin Na was 12 years, 10 months and 13 days at the 1996 championship.
The lowest 18-hole qualifying score is 65, set by J.C. Deacon in 1999 at The Country Club of York (Pa.) and tied by James Vargas in 2001. In addition, Vargas tied a USGA-wide mark and set a U.S. Junior Amateur standard with a 36-hole qualifying score of 132. At the Junior Amateur, the lowest 36-hole qualifying score was 134 by Sonny Nimkhum in 1999.
USGA AND ATLANTA ATHLETIC CLUB - The USGA is making its fourth visit to Atlanta Athletic Club. Following are the USGA championships, with winners in parentheses, which have already been conducted at Atlanta AC in Duluth: 1976 U.S. Open (Jerry Pate), 1984 Mid-Amateur (Michael Podolak), 1990 U.S. Women’s Open (Betsy King). The 1976 Open and 1984 Mid-Amateur were played on the Highlands Course and the 1990 Women’s Open was contested on the Riverside Course.
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIPS AT ATLANTA AC - The 1981 PGA Championship (won by Larry Nelson), the 2001 PGA Championship (won by David Toms), the 1982 Junior World Cup and the 2000 Southern Amateur were also played at Atlanta Athletic Club.
USGA AND GEORGIA - The 55th Junior Amateur is the 20th championship conducted by the United States Golf Association in Georgia. The last two USGA visits to the Peach State were in 2001. In early August, Walker Cup Match was contested at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, and, later that month, the U.S. Amateur was held at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The Junior Amateur has been conducted just one other time in Georgia, in 1970 at Athens Country Club.
MEDIA INFORMATION - For more information on the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur, please contact, Pete Kowalski of the USGA media relations staff at (908) 234-2300 x 1322. He will be on site as of July 21. The media room is the Oakmont Room at Atlanta Athletic Club. The phone number is 770-368-7714 and the fax number is 770-448-0184.