Beljan Wins US Junior Amateur


USGADULUTH, Ga. -- Charlie Beljan rolled home a two-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole Sunday to defeat Zac Reynolds and capture the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club.
On the 154-yard, par-3 17th, the second extra hole of the playoff, Reynolds hit first and knocked a 7-iron safely over the water 30 feet from the hole. Beljan, who lost the 18th hole in regulation to force the playoff, took dead aim with a 9-iron and landed two feet from the hole.
'I thought to myself, I gave the win away on 18,' said Beljan, a 17-year-old from Arizona. '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.'
Reynolds two-putted for par and watched as Beljan stuffed the birdie putt for the win.
'I pulled it off,' said Beljan. '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 hole after four birdies to that point but lost his tee shot into the trees at 13, taking bogey and losing the hole. Reynolds nearly holed a bunker shot at 14 but still won the hole after Beljan three-putted from 30 feet.
With the match all-square at 15, Reynolds sank his tee ball in the water and took double-bogey. Beljan landed on the green and won the hole, despite another three-putt bogey.
Beljan led 1-up after the players halved the 16th and 17th holes. On 18, Beljan knocked his second shot into the water while Reynolds landed on the green with his third shot and two-putted for bogey and the win on the 18th.
'I had an 8-iron from 165 yards,' said Beljan, referring to his second at 18. 'I just wanted to walk off the golf course and go sit by myself.'
The first playoff hole, the 18th, was a disaster for both players but Beljan had a chance to win the match. However, his 11-foot bogey putt never fell, extending the match to the 17th where Beljan finally won the title.
Because they were the finalists, both players are exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 19-25 at Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit.
The match ties for the second-longest championship match in history, joining the 1973 final when Jack Renner won the title. The longest match was in 1978 when Donald Hurter needed 21 holes to defeat Keith Banes.
Due to weather delays, the tournament needed six days rather than the normal five. The last time a U.S. Junior Amateur went beyond five days was 1991 when Tiger Woods set the record for youngest winner and captured the first of his eight USGA championships.