USGA Championship To Visit Western Michigan For First Time
By Christina Lance, USGA
For the first time in its 120-year championship history, the USGA is bringing a national championship to western Michigan. On a sunny Thursday in suburban Grand Rapids, area golf writers, USGA committee members and community supporters gathered at Egypt Valley Country Club to learn about the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, to be played July 19-24.
“Our setup and philosophy is built around identifying a national champion,” said Ben Kimball, director of the Junior Amateur Championship. “We want the best player to be identified here at Egypt Valley.”
While Egypt Valley will host its first USGA championship in July, it is not unfamiliar with hosting elite players. From 1994 through 2004, the Champions Tour made an annual stop at the club for the Farmers Charity Classic, with winners including past USGA champions Larry Nelson, Dave Stockton, Jay Sigel and Tony Jacklin. Though the event is longer contested, the experience working with the Champions Tour has helped the Egypt Valley staff meet the challenge of preparing a championship-caliber golf course. However, this year’s Junior Amateur Championship will push the golf course to levels it has never approached.
"This is going to be the hardest this golf course has ever played," said Jeff Holmes, the golf course manager at Egypt Valley. The course, which played to approximately 6,800 yards during the Champions Tour events, will challenge the junior players to master a layout stretched to more than 7,100 yards during championship week.
Jordan Spieth, the 2009 champion, will travel to Michigan this summer to defend the title that he captured at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., at age 15. Spieth, who recently received only the fourth amateur exemption in the history of the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship, will attempt to become the second player to win back-to-back Junior Amateur Championship titles. Tiger Woods took home the title from 1991 to 1993.
Spieth, who joined the media day via teleconference from his home in Dallas, applauded the USGA for creating a challenging course at Trump National that truly tested his abilities. Should Spieth, who will turn 17 later this year, survive another two days of stroke-play qualifying and six matches to win the 2010 championship, he will still have another year of age eligibility, which would allow him a run at Woods’ elusive Junior Amateur trifecta.