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Barnes Is Top US Amateur

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USGABLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. -- Ricky Barnes posted a 2-and-1 victory over Hunter Mahan in Sunday's 36-hole final of the 102nd U.S. Amateur Championship to capture amateur golf's most prestigious title.
 
'I'm on top of the world right now,' said Barnes, a 21-year-old from California. 'I've won a couple tournaments in my life, but the way I feel right now is unbelievable. My emotions are so high, I can't even explain them.'
 
Barnes will receive an invitation to the 2003 Masters, where he will play alongside reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods, the winner of three straight U.S. Amateurs from 1994-96. The winner of the U.S. Amateur also traditionally plays in the U.S. Open and British Open if he keeps his amateur status, which Barnes plans on doing.
 
'I'm a hundred percent sure that I'll be back to defend this title,' said Barnes.
 
Barnes won the last three holes in the morning's 18-hole session to grab a 2-up advantage. Barnes never let Mahan get any closer, but did trade blows with his opponent throughout the second 18.
 
After 26 holes, Barnes built a 4-up lead, but Mahan fought back. Mahan cut the deficit to 2-down after he drained a 50-foot eagle putt at the 12th, the 30th hole of the match.
 
Barnes got one back at the 31st hole when he ran home a 10-foot birdie putt to go 3-up. Mahan answered at the 33rd hole by rolling in a 30-footer for birdie to once again trim Barnes' lead to 2-up.
 
The players halved the 34th hole, the 16th at Oakland Hills, and Mahan needed to win the par-3 17th to extend the match. Although Mahan's tee shot landed 45 feet short, he seemed to have hope when Barnes' ball went over the putting surface.
 
Mahan's birdie try stopped seven feet short, while Barnes played a spectacular flop shot for his recovery. Before his ball finished rolling Barnes put his hands over his head in celebration, knowing the shot was that good. The ball stopped six inches from the hole and the match was conceded.
 
'When I was holding up the trophy I probably should have looked at a couple names,' said Barnes, referring to past winners such as Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer. 'But I know who is on that trophy. It's the accomplishment that I've been looking for my whole life.'
 
Mahan, the 1999 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, got three 1-up leads on the first 18 holes, but never drew closer than 2-down after the morning session.
 
'Ricky made it tough because he hit so many great shots and never really put himself in trouble,' said Mahan, a junior at Oklahoma State. 'He just played great. He just played like he wanted to win. I think he would have beaten anybody today, the way he was playing.'