Cox Right At Home At Olympic Club
Junior Amateur Runner-Up Hopes To Go One Better This Year
David Shefter, USGA
Jordan Cox if he shows up at the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur at The Olympic
Club a little bleary-eyed. Just chalk it up to a severe case of jet
|Jordan Cox hopes to become the third player
in Junior Amateur history to take the title a year after losing
in the final match. (USGA Photo Archives)
Junior Amateur will be the 16-year-old's third competition in as many
weeks, covering a total of 16 time zones. Cox, last year's Junior Amateur
runner-up, began his sojourn in Sunriver, Ore., at the American Junior
Golf Association's Rolex Tournament of Champions where he tied for 18th
in the 72-hole event played at the Crosswater Course.
there, he flew back to San Francisco for a quick one-night sleepover
at his Redwood City, Calif., home. That was before boarding a jet for
Scotland to compete in the Junior Open Championship, a biennial competition
that features one boy and one girl (players must be 16 years of age
or under) from a country to play in a 54-hole event (July 12-14) near
the site of that year's British Open. The '04 Junior Open Championship
was held at Kilmarnock Golf Club's Barassie Course not far from Royal
Troon in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland.
won the Junior Open Championship with a 69 in the final round.
then returned back to the Bay Area on the morning of July 17, giving
him enough time to register and get in one practice round at Olympic
before the Junior Amateur officially commenced on July 19.
a whirlwind tour for a seasoned professional golfer, let alone a player
who has yet to finish high school.
|It has been a whirlwind three weeks for Jordan
Cox, having played events in Oregon and Scotland before returning
home to the San Francisco area for the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur.
(USGA Photo Archives)
again, Cox does have a small advantage over the other 155 competitors
at this year's Junior Amateur - he's a junior member at Olympic. Although
he has only played the course 10 times since being extended the special
membership earlier this year, the local knowledge of this hilly championship
venue could be invaluable.
has hosted four previous U.S. Opens - the last in 1998 - so the competitors
can expect a highly challenging layout replete with plenty of the intangibles
that make this course one of the best in the country. The 606-yard 16th
hole will be the longest in Junior Amateur history. And just like at
previous Opens, the uphill 464-yard 17th will be played as a par 4,
not a par 5 as the members play it.
definitely a big advantage being a member at the club," said Cox during
a telephone press conference at Junior Amateur Media Day on July 6.
"I feel very comfortable there. I plan on giving it my best shot."
will be trying to accomplish something that has only been done twice
before in Junior Amateur history: win the championship after losing
in the final the previous year. Mason Rudolph lost the 1949 final to
Gay Brewer, but came back in '50 to defeat Charles Beville, 2 and 1,
at Denver ( Colo. ) Country Club. Thirty-two years later, Tim Straub
lost the 1982 final to Rick Marik, but returned in '83 to defeat John
Mahon, 1 up, at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
1999, Matthew Rosenfeld of Plano, Texas, lost in the semifinals as a
15-year-old and returned the following year to take the title at Pumpkin
Ridge Golf Club outside of Portland, Ore.
year, Cox was hoping to join fellow Californians Tiger Woods, Henry
Liaw and Mike Brannan as 15-year-old champions. Had he defeated Harman,
Cox would have been the youngest winner of the Junior Amateur. Instead,
Harman became just the third left-hander to win a USGA title, joining
Ralph Howe III and Phil Mickelson.
flat out-played me," said Cox of Harman's effort. "He played amazing
and I couldn't do anything about that."
two could face each other at Olympic as Harman, now 17, is back to defend
the title. He will be looking to become just the second player in Junior
Am history to win back-to-back championships. Woods won three consecutive
titles from 1991-93.
that The Olympic Club has plenty of is history. Besides all the USGA
championships waged on the Lake Course, the club, which was founded
in 1860, has had plenty of notable members, including Mark Twain, and
baseball Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio.
of Olympic's long-standing traditions is its junior membership program.
Prominent players who have been granted such a privilege include PGA
Champion Bob Rosburg, 1973 U.S. Open winner Johnny Miller, 1964 U.S.
Open champion Ken Venturi, 1966 U.S. Junior runner-up Ray Leach and
2002 U.S. Junior semifinalist Elliot Wainwright.
received his membership in January, but because of school and tournament
commitments, has only been able to play the course some 10 times. And
even though he'll only get one practice round in before the Junior Amateur,
he should have a good idea how to play each hole.
home-course advantage can be a true benefit. It was for George Zahringer
at the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Stanwich Club in Connecticut. Zahringer,
a Stanwich member, won the championship thanks to his local knowledge
of the challenging green complexes. At last year's Junior Am at Columbia
Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md., member Greg Carlin advanced to match
play before losing in the second round to Randy Lowry.
again, there's always pressure that goes along with all that knowledge.
Cox will likely have plenty of support from family and friends along
with the many Olympic members who attend. That sometimes can lead to
the biggest benefit might be the fact that Cox will actually get to
sleep in his own bed every night. He doesn't have to worry about a creaky
hotel bed or room service.
for someone who has spent the last few weeks crossing continents, a
little home cooking might not be all that bad.
Shefter is a staff writer for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or
comments at email@example.com.