USGA CHAMPIONS
Big Weekend for USGA Junior Champions July 23, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Jordan Spieth is now just one of three players to win the U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Open and The Open Championship. (USGA/Michael Cohen)

What a weekend it was for the USGA’s junior championships.

A day after Noah Goodwin became the 70th U.S. Junior Amateur champion thanks to an epic comeback at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan., another Texan with his name engraved twice on that same trophy had his own remarkable rally at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England.

Jordan Spieth, who won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2009 and 2011 and then in 2015 claimed the U.S. Open, blew a three-stroke lead and trailed with five holes to play before rallying with a near ace, a 50-foot eagle putt and a 30-foot birdie putt to win The Open Championship by three strokes over 1997 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar. Spieth, who turns 24 on Thursday, now has three legs of the career Grand Slam, needing only the PGA Championship to join the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen. If he wins next month at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., he’ll become the youngest to win all four professional majors.

Spieth joined Nicklaus as the only players with three different majors at the age of 23.

Spieth and Woods are the only two players to win multiple U.S. Junior Amateur titles.

“This is a dream come true,” said Spieth has he stared at the Claret Jug. “Absolutely a dream come true.”

Spieth wasn’t the only USGA junior champion to get a name on a trophy this weekend.

A day before the start of the 69th U.S. Girls’ Junior at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo., In-Kyung Kim, the 2005 champion, claimed the LPGA Tour’s Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio, her sixth LPGA Tour victory and second in just over a month.

Kim, now 29, defeated 2002 champion and future two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Inbee Park in the Girls’ Junior final 12 years ago, at BanBury Golf Club in Eagle, Idaho. She fired an 8-under 63 on Sunday, propelling her to a four-stroke victory over 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Lexi Thompson. She claimed the ShopRite LPGA Classic in early June.

Spieth became the first player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s at Royal Birkdale, which was hosting The Open Championship for the 10th time. He finished at 12-under 268, but it wasn’t easy.

Spieth lost all of his 3-stroke, 54-hole, lead on the first four holes, missing four putts from inside of 8 feet.

Then as the rain began pelting the competitors, Spieth hit a wayward drive on No. 13 that was closer to the practice range than the fairway. The ball nestled in knee-high grass, forcing Spieth to take an unplayable lie and take relief on the practice range. Meanwhile, Kuchar was waiting on the green with a 15-foot birdie putt. It brought back memories of Seve Ballesteros making a birdie from the car park at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to win the 1979 Open. He managed to salvage bogey to fall just one stroke back of Kuchar. It set the stage for Spieth’s dramatic finish.

Spieth credited his caddie, Michael Greller, whom he met while winning his second U.S. Junior Amateur at Gold Mountain in Bremerton, Wash., for keeping him grounded when things could have spiraled out of control.

“This [championship] is as much mine as it is his,” said Spieth after claiming victory. He and Goodwin share the same swing coach, Cameron McCormick.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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