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Barnes Wins 2002 U.S. Amateur


| Aug 25, 2002 | Birmingham, Mich.

(USGA/John Mummert)

Long-hitting Ricky Barnes, 21, of Stockton, Calif., showed off a deft short game and shot the equivalent of four under par – with the usual match-play concessions – in defeating 1999 U.S. Junior champion Hunter Mahan, 20, of McKinney, Texas, 2 and 1, at Oakland Hills Country Club’s South Course in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Barnes built a 2-up lead after the morning round and then showcased his touch around the greens to prevent Mahan from joining Tiger Woods as the only players to have won the Junior and Amateur titles.

This was the second time the two had met in the U.S. Amateur, with Mahan winning a second-round match in 2000 at Baltusrol Golf Club, 3 and 2.

Barnes’ touch around the greens was exemplified at the 35th hole with a perfectly executed chip from thick rough to within three feet. Mahan graciously conceded the par putt and Barnes had become the 500th champion in USGA history.

“I’m on top of the world right now,” said Barnes, a senior at the University of Arizona. “I’ve won a couple of tournaments in my life, but the way I feel right now is unbelievable.”

Barnes, who had previously qualified for the 2000 and 2002 U.S. Opens, had never found himself down by more than one hole in any of his matches leading to the final. He got up and down for par from a greenside bunker at the 18th hole to beat stroke-play medalist Bill Haas of Greer, S.C., 1 up, in the semifinals. Mahan, a standout at Oklahoma State University, defeated Dustin Bray of Asheboro, N.C., 1 up, in the other semifinal. Barnes never trailed after the ninth hole in any of his five matches leading to the 36-hole final. In the quarterfinals, Mahan won a battle between former U.S. Junior winners, defeating Henry Liaw (2001) of Rowland Heights, Calif., 2 and 1.

Jerry Courville Jr., 43, of Milford, Conn., lost in the second round to Bray (20 holes), but not before he advanced to match play at the Amateur for a ninth consecutive year.