Whitsett Cruises to US Junior Am Title

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USGAAUGUSTA, Mo. -- Cory Whitsett overcame an early two-hole deficit by winning five consecutive holes in an 8-and-7 victory over Anthony Paolucci to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship on Saturday.
 
Whitsett had birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 and parred Nos. 8, 10 and 11 at Boone Valley Golf Club in the morning portion of the 36-hole match play final to turn a 2-up deficit to a 3-up advantage. He finished with five birdies and just two bogeys in becoming only the second lefty to win the championship in its 60-year history.
 
'I tried not to get a match back with just one swing,' said Whitsett, 15. 'I just tried to take it one shot at time and be patient. There's a lot of birdies out there, and I knew it would come, eventually.'
 
Whitsett -- a sophomore from Houston -- said the match turned in his favor on the third hole. After hitting his tee shot into rough and getting a bad lie, he recovered to half the hole by chipping in for par.
 
He lost the next hole and went 2 down after Paolucci sank his second and final birdie of the day on No. 6. Still, Whitsett said the recovery at No. 3 proved vital psychologically.
 
'That chip in was very important and set the tone,' he said. 'It told him I wasn't going to get flustered by stuff like that.'
 
The all-Texas championship -- Paolucci, 14, is from Dallas -- guaranteed the winner would be from the state for the first time since Plano's Matthew Rosenfeld won the championship in 2000. The previous lefty to win was Brian Harmon in 2003.
 
Whitsett also became just the fifth 15-year-old to win the title, joining Mike Brannan (1971), Tiger Woods (1991), Henry Liaw (2001) and Sihwan Kim (2004). Woods is still the youngest to win the tournament at 15 years, 6 months and 28 days. Whitsett turns 16 on September 29.
 
The loss ended a surprise run for Paolucci, who had never played in match play competition before this week and had never qualified for the championship. He beat two of the top-ranked junior golfers during match play before he struggled in the final match.
 
'I wasn't supposed to get this far,' he said. 'I'm just enjoying what I've accomplished. If I had got knocked out in the first round or second round, I would have been disappointed. But I got to the finals. That's a big accomplishment.'
 
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