Beljan Wins 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur in 20 Holes July 26, 2002 | Duluth, Ga.

(USGA/J.D. Cuban)

With a 2-foot birdie putt on the 20th hole, Charlie Beljan of Mesa, Ariz. defeated Zac Reynolds of Edmond, Okla., in the 18-hole final match of the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course.

On the downhill and water-guarded 154-yard, par-3 17th hole, the second extra hole of the match, Reynolds played first and safely hit a 7-iron over the water to 33 feet from the hole. Beljan, who had lost the 18th hole by hitting his second shot in the water while holding a 1-up lead, then fired a 9-iron at the flagstick.

“I thought to myself, I gave the win away on 18,” said Beljan, 17. “I can’t handle any more of this, let’s win it or lose it here. I said the heck with the middle of the green. I took dead aim at the flag and hit it about 2 feet.”

Reynolds, 17, who rebounded from a 2-down deficit after 10 holes, two-putted for his par. Then, as he had in winning his semifinal match and in regulation on Saturday, Beljan sank his putt for birdie on the 17th.

“I pulled it off,” said the 6-4, 195-pound Beljan of his daring iron shot. “That was the greatest feeling to know I did it under that kind of pressure on that kind of hole. I couldn’t miss it five yards to the left or I couldn’t miss it short. To know I hit that shot was just about the best feeling I’ve had about a golf shot.”

Beljan had a 2-up lead on the 13th tee after making four birdies to that point. The lanky Arizonan hit his tee shot into the trees on the 13th and lost the hole with a bogey. Reynolds almost holed an uphill greenside bunker shot on the 14th and won his second straight hole when Beljan three-putted for bogey from 32 feet.

The match was all square on the 15th when Reynolds hit his tee shot into the water guarding the front of the 227-yard par 3. He carded a five and Beljan’s lead was 1-up despite another three-putt for bogey.

The 16th hole was halved with two pars. On the 17th hole, Beljan made a 23-footer for birdie but Reynolds, who had coolly dropped a 7-iron to 11 feet also made his putt for another halve.

With Beljan leading 1-up, he hit his second shot into the water fronting the 18th green. Reynolds, in the bark chips under the trees off the tee, punched out, hit the green and two-putted to win the hole and send the match to extra holes after Beljan could not convert his 10-foot putt and made double bogey.

“I had an 8-iron from 165 yards,” Beljan said of his second shot into the 462-yard, par-4 18th. “I just wanted to walk off the golf course and go sit by myself.”

The first extra hole was again the 18th. Reynolds drove into the water hazard, laid up, wedged to 10 feet and missed his bogey putt. Beljan’s drive found the right fairway bunker. He could only advance his ball 40 yards because of the high lip of the bunker and then hit an iron into heavy greenside rough. His chip came up 11 feet short and he missed his putt to send the match to the 17th tee for the second extra hole.

The match ties for the second-longest championship match with the 1973 championship, which was won by Jack Renner. The longest final match was a 21-hole victory for Donald Hurter over Keith Banes at the Wilmington (Del.) Country Club in 1978.

The championship, because of weather delays, was extended to six days. The last time a Junior Amateur went beyond the normal five-day schedule was in 1991, when it took six days to crown Tiger Woods as the champion.

On Saturday in the semifinals, Beljan defeated left-handed Elliott Wainwright, 17, of Hillsborough, Calif., 2 and 1, by winning the 16th and 17th holes. Wainwright had advanced by eliminating defending champion Henry Liaw in the third round and Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn. in the quarterfinals.

With a 1-up lead, Beljan rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to close out Wainwright.

Reynolds had advanced to the final by beating co-medalist Tarik Can, 17, of Douglaston, N.Y. in the semifinals. He won four consecutive holes to turn a 1-down deficit into a 3-and-2 win.

By reaching the final, Beljan and Reynolds are exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, August 19-25 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

The U.S. Junior Amateur, for golfers age 17 and younger, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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