2002 U.S. Junior Amateur
Atlanta Athletic Club, Duluth, Ga.
Georgia And The Junior
The host for the championship, Georgia, has six juniors competing to keep the Junior Amateur Trophy in their home state. If one of the Georgians wins, it will only be the second time that this feat will be accomplished in 20 USGA championships held in Georgia. The only time a Georgian has won in Georgia was in 1971, when Hollis Stacy, of Savannah, Ga., won the Girls’ Junior in 19 holes.
Six countries, other than the U.S., are represented in the championship including Canada, Germany, Japan, Chile, Bahamas and El Salvador. With the exception of Canada, which has five contestants, the rest of the countries all have one amateur competing. The Virgin Islands also lists one participant.
Match Play Returnees
Ten competitors return from last year’s field of 64 match play contestants, including the defending champion, Henry Liaw of Rowland Heights, Calif., and semifinalist Chanin Puntawong of Bradenton, Fla. Others returning include Steven Bain of Orlando, Fla.; Scotty Campbell of Conway, Ark.; Roberto Castro of Alpharetta, Ga.; Patrick Herzog of Red Wing, Minn.; Alex Prugh of Spokane, Wash.; Chris Wilson of Dublin, Ohio; Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn.; and Joshua Wooding of Riverside, Calif.
Campbell tied a U.S. Junior Amateur record with a first-round 65 (lowest score for 18 holes) and was seeded second in the match play field of 64. He hails from the same town (Conway, Ark.) as former Georgia Tech four-time All-American Bryce Molder.
Good Enough For Bethpage
Derek Tolan of Higlands Ranch, Colo., is exempt into the championship after qualifying for the 2002 U.S. Open with a 139 at the Colorado sectional site that included a chip-in for birdie on the first hole of a 3-for-1 playoff. Tolan, at 16 years old, was the youngest player in the 2002 Open.
Jeffrey Edelman of Southlake, Texas is the youngest of six 14-year-olds in the field. He was born on May 20, 1988. He survived a four-hole playoff in qualifying just two weeks after having a cast removed from his right leg.
Three players will celebrate birthdays this week. Eddie Peckels of Delray Beach, Fla. and Garrett Wentzell of Worcester, Mass. will turn 16 on July 22 and Joe Panzeri of Boise, Idaho will be 16 on July 25.
Feature/Human Interest Stories
Addison Awe, 16, of Irving, Texas has a special connection to two-time U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart. Addison’s father, Todd, played in the 1974 U.S. Junior Amateur and met Stewart there. They became lifelong friends. Addison and his family spent time with the late champion in June of 1999 and the youngster was able to hoist the U.S. Open trophy.
Give Them Room
Allan Baab, 15, of Lihue, Hawaii says he can twirl his golf club as if he is performing a ritual fire dance and Christopher Linton, 16, of Placerville, Calif., says he can imitate the entire TV commercial in which Tiger Woods bounces the golf ball off his clubface. Might be a good photo or visual.
Sterling Clark, 16, of Salt Lake City, Utah, claims his influence in golf is his friend Robbie Fillmore, 16, also of Salt Lake. The East High School friends both qualified at Wasatch Mountain in Park City on June 26-27. Sterling shot 135 and Robbie shot 140 for the top two spots of four berths. Incidentally, Fillmore has recovered from a burn accident at age three that left doctors doubting he would ever have the use of his arms.
Kyle Forbes, 16, of Sumner, Wash., has experienced good and bad luck prior to the championship. In January of this year, he broke his pelvis in a car accident but he scored a hole in one in qualifying (21st hole of 36) at Canterwood Golf and Country Club in Seattle. Another qualifying hole in one was recorded by Tyler Miskell at Rolling Meadows in Marysville, Ohio. It was Miskell’s first career ace.
Jake Grodzinsky, 17, of Cornville, Ariz., shot 59, including a double eagle, at Snowflake C.C. in April of this year for the lowest score in Arizona high school golf. President of his senior class at Sedona Red Rock High School, he attended Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
In addition to his talent in golf, Patrick Herzog, 17, of Red Wing, Minn., was an all-conference choice and the starting point guard on Red Wing High School's state runner-up basketball team.
Nick Kelley, 15, of Purcellville, Va., has a tough name to live up to: his given first name is Nicklaus (as in Jack). The story goes that he was unnamed and known as ‘Boy’ Kelley for two weeks before his dad, Hunter, decided to name him after the ‘Golden Bear.'
Dan Kleckner, 17, of Spring, Texas, is a well-traveled young man. He has lived in Quito, Ecuador and Aberdeen, Scotland. Ironically, Ecuador is where he started to play golf at age 11. Christian Whittaker, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif., was born in Ipswich, England, moved to France, back to England and finally to the U.S.
Andy Leadbetter, 17, of Orlando, Fla., comes from a golf family. His father is well-known golf instructor David Leadbetter and his mother is a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Kelly (nee Fuiks).
Tom McAndrews, 17, of Colbert, Wash., is a two-year starter at linebacker and a two-time team captain for Mead High School's football team.
Tim Porter, 16, of Wilmington, Del., was ranked fifth in the nation in boys U17 squash rankings this past year.
Matt Schall, 17, of Jersey Shore, Pa., was an all-league performer in both basketball and baseball at Jersey Shore High School. He won the District 4 golf championship this past spring.
Chris Wilson, 17, of Dublin, Ohio, and Casey Wittenberg, 17, of Memphis, Tenn., are playing in their fourth U.S. Junior Amateurs. No one in the field has qualified as many times. Wilson tried as a 12 year old five years ago, did not qualify, but has qualified four consecutive times. Scotty Campbell, 17, of Conway, Ark., Shane Sigsbee, 17, of McKinney, Texas and Jerred Texter, 16, of Millersville, Pa., have qualified three times each.
Five players win the determination category. Beau Glover, 17, of Sherwood, Ark.; Jared Jones, 17, of Kenova, W. Va.; Tom McAndrews, 17, of Colbert, Wash.; Louis Rittberger, 17, of Moreland Hills, Ohio; and Elliott Wainwright, 17, of Hillsborough, Calif., qualified for the first time in five tries this year. Glover did by winning a one-hole playoff for the second and final spot at C.C. of Little Rock on June 24. He just missed qualifying (as a first alternate from his qualifying site) in both 2000 and 2001.
Jones did by birdieing the last two holes of the qualifier to make a playoff and then winning the 2-for-1 playoff for the only spot at Pete Dye G.C. in Bridgeport, W. Va., on June 18. McAndrews shot 71-72—143 for the second of two spots at Manito G.& C.C. in Spokane, Wash., on June 24. Rittberger was co-medalist at his qualifier with at Mayfield C.C. in Cleveland on July 1. Wainwright shot 136 at Stanford University in Palo Alto on July 1 to take the second of four available slots.