Allred White And Blue
Oregon 17-Year-Old Defeats
Globetrotting South African Trevor Immelman For 1997 U.S.
April 15, 2008
This story was reprinted from the September 1997
issue of the USGA's Golf Journal magazine.
By Brett Avery
He barely has stubble on his chin and keeps a boyish
grin on his face, so Jason Allred is rarely mistaken for a
grizzled veteran. Yet here he was at Aronomink Golf Club
outside of Philadelphia, playing in his fourth U.S. Junior
Amateur. It was the twilight of a youthful career that
would end April 6 his 18th birthday.
For this week, however, he was an old man recognized by
his peers from his introduction during the pre-championship
dinner. It was a special night, commemorating the 50th
anniversary of the first Junior Amateur, an event
stretching back to the heady days following World War II.
Allred was asked to take a bow, since four-time Junior
entrants are as rare as rampant bull markets.
His first year, the season after Eldrick
"Tiger" Woods won his last Junior, Allred lost in
the second round. The next year it was the third round, but
last year it was a crushing first-round defeat. "I was
really disappointed after that," he said. "I
thought I would do so much better."
|Reigning Masters champion Trevor
Immelman came up one match short at the 1997 U.S.
Junior Amateur. (USGA Photo Archives)|
Allred turned his Junior denouement into a classic. He
shot the second-lowest total in the stroke-play rounds,
142, won six matches, including a nail-biting 1-up defeat
of Trevor Immelman, the world-traveling South African who
at age 17 nearly won this year's British Amateur.
Despite Allred's tenure, first-time entrant Immelman
was as much a favorite as Secretariat. He had gone into the
British Amateur at Royal St. George's having won six
straight tournaments, including the South African Amateur
and Junior. In a year when the visitors are pocketing all
the USGA silverware, Immelman was prepared to take another
cup across the pond.
Allred twice refused to crumble. He led early by three
holes, only to have Immelman square the match at the 10th.
Once again Allred rushed forward, going 2 up with a
heart-stopping chip-in for birdie at the 465-yard 15th, but
Immelman responded with a pair of magnificent birdies. With
everything on the line at the 18th, his 132nd hole in five
days, Allred made a regulation par from 20 feet while made
an uncharacteristically poor swing from the fairway to find
a bunker, then grazed the hole with a 24-footer.
"I can't believe that I missed that shot to the
left," Immelman said of his 6-iron approach. "I
don't believe I short-sided myself on that green. That
should have happened."
Immelman again fell in a match-play final which he
putted poorly while his opponent seemingly made all the
crucial ones. Allred would have taken 28 putts if every
concession had dropped, against 31 for Immelman.
"This is what I've dreamed about, coming down
the last hole and having a chance to win," Allred said
with a beaming smile. "I never thought I'd get
nervous, but I was on the 18th. It was unbelievable, a
The loss, before an enthusiastic gallery estimated at
more than 1,500, was a crushing blow to Immelman, who lost
three of the first five holes with bogeys and did not make
his first regulation par until the 382-yard seventh. Only
dropped shots by Allred at three of the next five holes
saved Immelman from a drubbing.
"I started great the first four holes and was
hitting the ball almost perfectly. Then I lost my
swing," Allred recalled. "I'm fortunate
Trevor didn't play his best, because he would have
It was the second close call Allred had during a week of
otherwise easy contests. He had been 4 up at the turn in
his opener against Ned Yetten of Andover, Mass., who had
survived an eight-for-five playoff to secure a spot in the
64-player draw. But Yetten was even 4s on the back nine,
making a bogey at the long 16th to halve and still lost, 1
down. Otherwise, Allred saw the 16th just once in his next
Immelman was even more dominating in the lower bracket.
He won two of his first three starts by scores of 7 and 5,
and 4 and 3, each without losing a hole. The only time in
his preliminaries that he trailed was when he made bogey at
the 381-yard second against Sean O'Hair of Scottsdale,
Ariz., in the semifinals. Immelman then won three of the
next four and coasted, 5 and 4.
There was one anxious moment, and it nearly caused
Immelman to withdraw from the event. During the third round
against Andrew Doeden of Fargo, N.D., Immelman was 2 up at
the 14th when he was taking a practice swing and heard
something pop in his index finger of his left hand. He had
hurt the same finger last year and feared a recurrence.
"It was swelling, and it was painful to grip the club.
I was thinking, 'Geez, what happens if I can't
But Immelman would not blame the finger for his play in
the final, where he hit only seven fairways off the tee and
made four bogeys before his first birdie, at the 16th.
"It's kind of tough, going to the final of two
of the biggest tournaments in the world and then
losing," he said. "I've always been a bit of
a slow starter in match play, and my parents would say,
'Go and win from the first tee.' But I didn't
do that today."
Allred was the one taking the advice. The high school
senior lives in Ashland, Ore., a town of about 16,000
located in the state's southwest corner, about 15
minutes from the California border. He traveled to the
Junior solo; his family followed his progress via telephone
and on the television as the final rounds were shown
nationally (on ESPN). Allred is a player representative on
the board of the American Junior Golf Association and
carries a 3.95 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. At
6-foot-3 and 165 pounds, he's also a stringbean with a
perpetual smile. During the final's deciding holes,
while Immelman stared at the ground and marched to his next
shot, Allred answered questions and chatted with youngsters
who were drawn to him like a magnet.
The Junior followed a scrunched schedule with two days
of stroke play Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by two-a-day
match-play rounds. Compounding matters was a Thursday of
rotten weather, which ensured the 6,895-yard course would
play long and tough. A constant rain, sometimes slashing at
a 45-degree angle, and temperatures cold enough to make
everyone's breath visible, fell during the first two
rounds of match play. It was remarkable that the grounds
crew stayed ahead of pooling water on the greens with a
fleet of squeegies, and only the last two matches were
suspended until the next morning.
"I told my caddie, 'Why did I fly 15,000 miles
for weather just like back home?" a soaked Immelman
asked that evening as he dried his equipment.
"It's all the same for everybody, so you just grit
your teeth and make the best of it."
Ryan Hybl, a 16-year-old from Hazlehurst, Ga., who had
placed second in three previous starts, including the
Tournament of Champions, took the medal with 71-69. Allred
was in a four-way tie at 142, coming off a
confidence-building 67 to open. Hybl won his first three
matches by close margins, twice winning at the 18th green,
but was bounced Friday afternoon by Chris Zeller of Boca
Raton, Fla., 1 up.
Zeller, who birdied the last two in local qualifying to
make the field, is constantly mistaken as a relative of
former U.S. Open winner Fuzzy Zoeller. "Doesn't
matter that the names are spelled differently," he
said. "I'm asked about him all the time."
He could have used Zoeller's game Saturday morning
in the semifinals against Allred, where he lost, 5 and 4.
Zeller opened the match with a 54-foot birdie putt, but
then hit a snap-hook drive at the 442-yard third en route
to a bogey and was 2 down after No. 5.
"When Jason had to make putts to win holes, he made
them, and when I had to make them, I didn't,"
Zeller said. "The first time I heard about him was at
the dinner. I thought, 'Wow, four Juniors. He must be
Immelman was taking advantage of O'Hair by the same
score. Two weeks after his 15th birthday, O'Hair
scooted into his first match-play draw with 74-73 and
cruised against his first two opponents. He went to the
19th hole Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and was
flagging by the time he met Immelman.
"If he hits it out of the fairway or misses a
green, he has a way to get it up and down," O'Hair
said of Immelman. "He's one of the best in the
Immelman could not recreate that level of play in the
final. While Allred barely missed genuine birdie attempts
at the first three greens, Immelman lagged from 48, 40 and
36 feet. He bogeyed the 452-yard fourth from a greenside
bunker, then couldn't scramble for par at the 167-yard
fifth after finding a grass bunker with a 7-iron.
"I hit it so good on the range before the match,
but then I developed a technical hitch on the course,"
Allred made bogey at the sixth, double at the eighth and
bogey at the 10th as Immelman found his groove and recorded
six consecutive pars to square the match. But at the
430-yard 12th, Immelman's chip ran across the putting
surface and he bogeyed. Then, when Allred ran down a
34-yard pitch shot for birdie at the 15th, gaining a
two-hole lead, Immelman seemed doomed.
"I couldn't believe the rush I got after that
shot," Allred said. "It just got me pumped up
Immelman refused to surrender, nearly reaching the
542-yard 16th with a driver-driver, the second from the
right rough, and dropping a nine-footer for birdie, then
stiffing a 5-iron at the 206-yard 17th and canning a
"That was my best shot of the week," Immelman
said, "and then to play the 18th the way I did was
Their drives were within four yards of each other, and
after Allred found the center of the green, about 20 feet
below the hole, Immelman opted for a smooth 6-iron instead
of a hard 7-iron. The ball dove into the front left bunker,
necessitating an odd stance with his feet outside the sand.
The ball came out softly but trickled off the upper tier
and stopped 24 feet from the hole. The putt seemed on line,
but it grazed the left edge, leaving Allred two putts for
His first thought after the awards presentation was to
call his parents. "We had a little cry, but it was
great," Allred said. "I thought of my family
through the whole match."
Allred also thought of the next round on his calendar,
two days away, a U.S. Amateur qualifier in Dallas before
another junior tournament. With the Junior Amateur victory,
he gained a rare Amateur exemption and wiped the round from
the books. "Nice way to get into the Amateur," he
said with a grin.
Nice way to complete a junior career, too.
Editor's note: Among those to make the match-play
draw at the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur were future PGA Tour
winners Lucas Glover, Adam Scott and Hunter Mahan, along
with the aforementioned Sean O'Hair. Hybl would be
the runner-up at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur.