Kevin Tway of Edmond, Okla., celebrated his 17th birthday by taking four of the first nine holes and holding on to his lead the rest of the way for a 5-and-3 win over Brad Johnson, 16, of Birmingham, Ala., in the first 36-hole final of the U.S. Junior Amateur at Longmeadow Country Club.
The son of PGA Tour golfer Bob Tway, Kevin never trailed in the match. He stood 4 up after the first 18 holes of Saturday’s morning round and was the equivalent of 4 under par with the normal concessions given for match play. Johnson shot the equivalent of even-par 70.
Johnson never got any closer as Tway reeled off six consecutive pars to start the afternoon round and increased his lead along the way when his pars on the first and fourth holes were good enough for wins, building his lead to 6 up after 22 holes.
“It feels really good,” said the soft-spoken Tway. “A lot of great players have won this.”
Johnson made a mild comeback attempt from there when he scored winning birdies on holes 9 and 10 in the afternoon. But the comeback ran out of gas when he missed mid-range putts that would have given him wins on the next two holes.
“I thought I made the one on 11,” said Johnson of his 8-footer. “But I wasn’t playing that great. I can’t count the number of times he made a great save for par, I’d miss my birdie putt, and we’d halve the hole.
“He really won the match one the first nine holes this morning. He was 4 up and that’s where it stayed. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to play. He made all of his putts there and I got a little discouraged.”
Tway closed out the match in the afternoon by halving four consecutive holes and winning the 15th when Johnson’s approach found the left greenside bunker and he made bogey. With that, he conceded Tway’s 15-footer for birdie and the victory.
“I didn’t really have any expectations coming into this week,” said the younger Tway, who had his proud father watching with approval. “My dad just told me to have a good attitude and good things will happen.”
Bob Tway, who won the 1986 PGA Championship, played in two Junior Amateurs, but never advanced beyond the first round of match play, in 1975.
“For some reason, watching him (Kevin) play in other tournaments didn’t seem like that big a deal,” said the elder Tway. “This championship IS a big deal. No matter what you do the rest of your life, to win a USGA event is unbelievable.”
“He didn’t win this tournament, but I haven’t won any of the ones he’s won,” said Kevin with a big smile.
At least not yet.