Bremerton, Wash. – Past champion Jordan Spieth, 17, of Dallas, Texas, still isn’t thrilled with how he is playing at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. But he’s playing well enough to advance to the semifinals for the third time in four years.
Joining Spieth in the semifinals at the par-72, 7,111-yard Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club are Adam Ball, 17, of Richmond, Va., Chelso Barrett, 17, of Keene, N.H., and Nicolas Echavarria, 16, of Colombia.
In his quarterfinal match against Andrew Whalen, 17, of Ephrata, Wash., Spieth won the second and third holes to take an early lead but Whalen birdied the fourth and fifth to quickly square the match.
Spieth, playing in his fourth Junior Amateur, was able to take the lead for good on the par-3 16th hole when Whalen’s tee shot with a 6-iron flew over the green and he went on to double bogey the hole.
“If you can win on an off-day, then you’re in good shape,” said Spieth, the 2009 champion who was the equivalent of one over par against Whalen with match-play concessions. “I’m still waiting for everything to click. My putter is inconsistent right now and my irons are just not going where I want them to go. I’m still managing to get by, but I’m not going to be able to do this the rest of the way. I’m going to have to find a way to get the ball in the hole in a little fewer strokes than I did.”
Spieth’s semifinal opponent will be Ball, who used an aggressive approach to oust stroke-play medalist Beau Hossler, 16, of Mission Viejo, Calif.
“I never laid down,” said Ball, who is playing in his third Junior Amateur. “I hit at every pin and I felt better over my putter than I have all week. I made a lot of clutch par putts. It was solid – I didn’t make any mistakes.”
Hossler twice took a 1-up lead, on the first and fifth holes, but Ball was able to square the match both times. Ball took his first lead with a par on No. 8 and built the lead to 2 up on No. 10 when he converted his 15-footer for birdie and Hossler was unable to match from 7 feet. On No. 13, Ball made a 10-footer for par to halve the hole and remain 2 up.
“The reason I lost is because he was making the 8- to 15-footers and I wasn’t,” said Hossler. “You have to make those. Those build confidence but they win holes and most importantly they halve holes. When someone makes a 10-footer to halve a hole, that’s a big difference. I had a couple of those slide by and he made a lot of clutch putts at the end.”
A three-putt by Hossler on No. 14 gave Ball a 3-up advantage. Hossler made a 14-foot downhill putt on the par-3 16th hole to cut the deficit to 2 down, but after the two traded pars on No. 17, Ball earned a 2-and-1 victory.
“I never got anything going,” said Hossler. “I only made a few birdies out there and you can’t expect to win with pars. You have to make birdies. He made birdies and I slipped up on some holes and made some bogeys, and that normally does it.”
Barrett advanced with a 1-up victory over William Starke, 17, of Chapin, S.C. The two were all square heading to the par-4, 277-yard 18th hole. Starke, hitting first, opted to drive the green. His tee shot found trouble right of the green and his second shot flew over the green into a bunker. His par putt from 30 feet just slid by the hole. Barrett, safely on the green in two shots, lagged his birdie putt to inches, which was conceded for the victory.
“I knew I could get it there,” said Starke of his decision to go for it on No. 18. “I hadn’t hit a fade all day and I was pretty confident in my driver and I thought I could do it. I thought that was my best shot.”
Next up for Barrett is Echavarria, who advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Ryan Benton, 17, of Dothan, Ala. Echavarria built a 4-up lead but Benton whittled away at the lead and cut it to 1 down when Echavarria bogeyed No. 14.
“I just couldn’t handle being 4 up,” said Echavarria, who birdied Nos. 15 and 17 to earn a 2-and-1 victory. “He played much better than when he started.”
The U.S. Junior Amateur continues with the semifinal matches Friday afternoon. The 36-hole championship final will be played Saturday.
The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Beth Murrison is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. For questions or comments, contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bremerton, Wash. – Results following Thursday’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur at the 7,111-yard, par-72 Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club:
Adam Ball, Richmond, Va. (144) def. Beau Hossler, Mission Viejo, Calif. (135), 2 and 1
Jordan Spieth, Dallas, Texas (140) def. Andrew Whalen, Ephrata, Wash. (147), 2 and 1
Chelso Barrett, Keene, N.H. (143) def. William Starke, Chapin, S.C. (139), 1 up
Nicolas Echavarria, Colombia (149) def. Ryan Benton, Dothan, Ala. (150), 2 and 1
Bremerton, Wash. – Pairings for Friday’s semifinal round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur at the 7,111-yard, par-72 Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club (all times PDT):
1 p.m. Adam Ball, Richmond, Va. (144) vs. Jordan Spieth, Dallas, Texas (140)
1:15 p.m. Chelso Barrett, Keene, N.H. (143) vs. Nicolas Echavarria, Colombia (149)