Jordan Spieth, 17, of Dallas, Texas, earned a 6-and-5 victory over Chelso Barrett, 16, of Keene, N.H., to win the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur Saturday at the par-72, 7,111-yard Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club.
Spieth, who also won the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur, became just the second golfer in the 64-year history of the championship to claim more than one title. Tiger Woods won three consecutive Junior Amateur titles from 1991 to 1993.
"Any time you can be compared to any of Tiger's golf accomplishments, it's very special," said Spieth. "You know, he won it three years in a row. I'm glad to have gotten two of them, so now I can't play in this one anymore, I'm going to go after the Amateurs that he won. But as of the present moment, I'm very happy to have won this coming in as a past champion and being able to make it through again."
But it wasn’t easy, particularly at the start. Barrett took an early 2-up lead in the scheduled 36-hole when Spieth bogeyed the first two holes.
"Two up through two is awesome but there’s 36 holes to play," said Barrett, who was playing in his second Junior Amateur. "It was a good start, but I knew I would have to continue and I didn’t."
Spieth got one hole back when Barrett double bogeyed the par-4 third hole and squared the match when he made a 10-footer for birdie on the par-5 sixth hole. Spieth would not trail again. He took the lead for good with a conceded birdie on No. 13 when Barrett was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker. Another bogey by Barrett on No. 15 increased Spieth’s lead to 2 up.
At the 461-yard, par-4 17th hole, it looked like Barrett might get one back when Spieth hit his tee shot into the deep rough left of the fairway and Barrett drove in the middle of the fairway. But Barrett hit his approach shot short and right of the green and his 7-foot par raced putt 5 feet past the hole. His bogey putt lipped out and Spieth made his bogey putt to take a 3-up lead.
"It was a funny lie," said Barrett of his approach shot on No. 17. "It wasn’t bad enough to where I hit the shot that I hit. I thinned it and came out of it. I hit a god-awful chip and a bad three-putt. I knew I had to be aggressive with it because I was banking on him making his 8-footer."
On the par-4 18th, both players chose to drive the green. Barrett, whose tee shot found the rough just next to a front greenside bunker, hit a beautiful shot to 2 feet, which was conceded for birdie. Spieth hit his tee shot into a greenside bunker and he blasted out to 4 feet, which he made for birdie.
"That was a very important hole to get a birdie on, especially after 17 turned out the way it did," said Spieth. "I was 2 up going to 17, thought it was going to be 1 up going to 18, and it ended up being 3. Big turnaround going into lunch."
After the break, Spieth lost No. 1 for the second time in the match but made a 16-footer for birdie one hole later to again build his lead to 3 up. Barrett would not get closer again. He bogeyed the 23rd hole to go 4 down and another bogey two holes later pushed the deficit to 5 down.
"You have to make a lot of birdies to actually gain momentum against Jordan because he’s such a good player," said Barrett, who lost to Spieth, 7 and 5, in the first round at the 2010 Junior Amateur. "Against other players, you can make birdie-birdie-par and maybe win three out of four holes, where if you want to win three out of four against him, you’ve got to birdie three holes."
For Spieth, who was upset in the second round at the Junior Amateur a year ago, regaining the trophy was particularly sweet. It was his last junior event – he turns 18 next week and will start college at the University of Texas next month.
"I'm just very, very pleased that I came out on top here with the expectations and everything going in," he said. "I was preparing for it the whole year, and it's nice to be able to execute."
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.