Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1997 U.S. Junior produces a second Masters champion



   With the U.S. Open at Merion’s historic East Course just 57 days away, we now know who will arrive in the Ardmore section of Haverford Township with the only chance to achieve the calendar Grand Slam and that would be …
   Adam Scott, as you were reminded a few times, became the first Australian to wear the Masters green jacket when his 12-foot birdie putt in the gathering darkness rolled in to defeat a tough cookie in two-time major champion Angel Cabrera.
   Scott, though, is the second Masters champion to emerge from the field of the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur, which was held right here in Delaware County at Aronimink Golf Club. The first, of course, was South African Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion.
   I searched through that Delco history book that is the Daily Times electronic library and found a nice feature story on the then 17-year-old Scott from the U.S. Junior Boys from Aronomink penned by Bob Lentz, who went on to bigger and better things at The Associated Press after leaving the Daily Times.
   Lentz chronicled Scott’s decision to come to America from Queensland, Australia for a summer of junior golf.
   Just went it looked like his stay would not include a trip to Aronomink after an opening-round 72 in qualifying at Los Coyotes Country Club in Buena Park, Calif., Scott offered a glimpse into the kind of potential he had when he ripped off a second-round 62 to win the qualifying medal by three shots.
   Then it was off to Aronimink, where Scott had rounds of 70 and 72 at the Donald Ross gem in Newtown Township to reach match play.
   “The chipping and putting is so different on this side of the world,” Scott told Lentz that summer day nearly 16 years ago. “There is a lot of different grasses. It’s a lot easier back home, I think. But the greens here (at Aronomink) are similar to what I’m used to.”
   The library entries skip Scott’s elimination from match play. Immelman reached the final before losing to Jason Allred, a player who has knocked the door of the PGA Tour, but never quite made it.
  Immelman reached the final with a semifinal victory over a 15-year-old phenom named Sean O’Hair. Maybe some day O’Hair, who lives in West Chester, but who became an adopted son of Delco when he  married Sun Valley All-Delco Jackie Lucas, will join that Aronomink/U.S. Junior Class of ’97 as a Masters champion.
   One more note on the Aussie Masters champion. It was mentioned on a few of the post-Masters telecasts, but the winner of the last U.S. Open at Merion in 1983 was another Australian great, David Graham, in  what this long-time Merion watcher considers one of the most underrated final-round U.S. Open performances in the whole dang history of the tournament.

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