Beljan sweats it out against Wainwright's hot putter

Updated: July 27, 2002, 8:31 PM ET
Associated Press

DULUTH, Ga. -- Charlie Beljan and Zac Reynolds each won two matches Saturday to advance to the final of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Beljan, a 17-year-old from Mesa, Ariz., won the 16th and 17th holes to beat Elliott Wainwright of Hillsborough, Calif., 2 and 1 in the semifinals on the Highlands Course. Wainwright, 17, was the lone left-hander left in the tournament.

"He didn't hit the ball that well,'' Beljan said. "But he had his short game. He can putt like nobody. On any putt under 30 feet, I was just praying he wasn't going to make it.''

Earlier in the day in the quarterfinals, Beljan rallied from 2-down in the final three holes to beat Brian Harman in 21 holes. The 15-year-old Harman, from Savannah, was the youngest player remaining.

Reynolds, a 17-year-old from Edmond, Okla., won four consecutive holes at one point to win 3 and 2 over co-medalist Tarik Can, 17, of New York.

"To have a chance to be national champion is really cool,'' said Reynolds, the sports editor of his high school paper. "It's something everyone thinks about. You want to win the U.S. Open, well, this is our U.S. Open.''

Can, from the Douglaston in Queens, was one of two players under par during stroke play on the 7,008-yard, par-70 course.

"It was a great match,'' Reynolds said. "And, it was the best match I played. I needed every bit of it because Tarik played well.''

In the quarterfinals, Reynolds won the 18th hole to win 2 up over 15-year-old Joe Panzeri of Boise, Idaho; Wainwright beat Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn., 3 and 2; and Can defeated Chanin Puntawong of Bradenton, Fla., in 19 holes.

Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press