Among golfers his age, who's better than Keene's Chelso Barrett?
Nobody in New Hampshire, that's for sure.
Nearing the start of his junior year at Keene High, Barrett finished runner-up at the 64th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship from July 18-23. The 16-year-old's sensational run in Bremerton, Wash., ended with a 6-and-5 setback in the tournament's 36-hole final at Gold Mountain Golf Club.
Barrett's dream finish on the 7,111-yard, par-72 Olympic Course was denied by Dallas 17-year-old Jordan Spieth, also the 2009 champion.
“It was disappointing coming in second. But at the same time, it was really big because I got (three) exemptions for USGA events in the future,” Barrett said from Fort Wayne, Ind., on the eve of the Junior PGA Championship Aug. 2-5. “I lost the tournament, but it wasn't really a loss.”
Spieth last year eliminated Barrett in the Round of 64. This summer, the Texas teenager became just the second golfer in the championship's history to win multiple titles. He joined Tiger Woods, a three-peat junior amateur champ from 1991-93.
Securing a spot in the final required Barrett bump considerable competition from the bracket. Taking lessons last February from Craig Shankland at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., paid off.
In just his second Junior Amateur, Barrett started strong. He carded a 36-hole, 1-under-par 143 (69-74) during stroke play. It lifted him to the Round of 64, where the tourney's format turned to match play.
Andrew Bonner of Ripon, Calif., was the first foe Barrett sent packing. The final score was 1-up.
The next win really fueled the teen's momentum.
Barrett defeated defending champion Jim Liu, 2-up. The Smithtown, N.Y., native was attempting to join Woods as the only other repeat king.
“After he beat the defending champion, I was shocked,” said Chelso's father, Hugh, New Hampshire's 1980 state amateur champ. “It's done so much for him. He was basically unknown (in major college golf) before that.”
But the upset was an attention-grabber. Barrett, whose surname is well known at Keene's Bretwood Golf Course, ousted Liu with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
The first of those back-to-back birdies applied the pressure. Barrett sank a 6-foot putt after striking a wonderful approach from 165 yards.
The second birdie cemented Barrett's victory. Liu needed a final-hole win to extend the bout. His tee shot proved troublesome, however, forcing him to concede No. 18.
“Basically, my bad shots weren't that bad,” Barrett said of the key to his near-No. 1 finish. “I didn't hit it great in the finals, but up until that point, I hit it solid. I kept the ball in play.”
He beat William Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, 2-and-1, in the Round of 16. Thus, he met his goal to reach the Round of 8.
Then, he exceeded personal expectation. He beat William Starke of Chapin, S.C., 1-up, in the quarterfinals.
He also beat Colombia's Nicholas Echavarria in 19 holes to survive the semifinals.
In the final, Barrett built a 2-up lead through two holes. But a double-bogey on No. 3 combined with Spieth's birdie on No. 6 squared the match.
Spieth took his second lead by winning the 13th hole. He didn't trail again.
Losing to Spieth, competing in his last junior event, wasn't a complete downer for Barrett. Advancing to the final match earned him exemptions to the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 22-28 in Erin, Wisc., and next year's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship July 9-14 in Midway, Utah.
But he's most excited about the third exemption – earned by achieving his goal to make the quarterfinals cut.
He's assured a spot in next year's Junior Amateur, which takes place July 16-21 at the Golf Club of New England.
Course location: Stratham, N.H.
“Probably the support,” Barrett said when asked what excites him most about playing close to home. “And the (minimal) travel.”
BEDFORD'S BIG RETURN
Bedford Post 54 last won the American Legion state baseball title in 1989.
The drought ended with a 9-0 win July 27.
In its first state tournament since the program reformed four years ago, Bedford beat Dover Post 8 to secure the crown.
Lucas Olen notched his second pitching win of the tourney at Nashua's Holman Stadium. Dover aided Bedford's cause, committing three errors, issuing nine free passes and plunking three batters.
Next up for Bedford, which finished the tourney 4-1, is the Northeast Regional Aug. 4-11 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. A berth in the American Legion World Series (Shelby, N.C.) is at stake.
Last year's football all-stars set a new Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl record for consecutive wins by New Hampshire teams. This summer's squad seeks to extend the run.
The 58th annual game takes place Saturday, Aug. 6, at Windsor (Vt.) High's MacLeay-Royce Field. Gridders from “the 603” take a 10-game win streak, built by their predecessors, into the game.
A year ago, New Hampshire won, 34-20. The Granite State leads the all-time series, 42-13-2.
The updated roster includes:
Offense – Matt Ammann, OL (Keene); Tom Baxter, OL (St. Thomas Aquinas); Steve Cronan, QB (Winnacunnet); Brendan Demo, OL (Gilford); Jacob Ford, OL (Franklin); Zach Hunnewell, OL (Nashua North); Max Jacques, RB (Salem); Mike Kelly, RB (Bishop Guertin); Nick Lawrence, RB (Timberlane); Sam McClain, TE (Bedford); Brendan McKenna, TE (Souhegan); James Murphy, OL (Nashua North); Ian Parsons, OL (Trinity); Cody Patch, RB (Lebanon); Robert Ramirez, TE (Kearsarge); Taylor Russell, OL (Keene); Chad Woods, SE (Concord).
Defense – Tyler Baulier, DL (Merrimack); Matt Cannone, DB (Salem); Sam Carney, DB (Hanover); Nick Corbett, LB (Dover); Jeff Gratiano, DL (Trinity); Doug Gregory, LB (Kearsarge); Nick Hession, DL (Souhegan); Zach Knight, LB (Stevens); Brian Liamos, LB (Hollis/Brookline); John Doran Logsdon, LB (Laconia); Mike Mazzola, DL (Pinkerton); Micah Morton, DB (Lebanon); Joe DiPalma, LB (Salem); Jonathan Roth, DB (Lebanon); Luke Somers, DB (Pinkerton); Josh Stout, DB (Newport); Matt Sullivan, DB (Winnacunnet); Kyle Wilson, DL (Dover).
Special teams – Kyle Behan, kicker (Laconia).
Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read his blog, "New Hampshire GameDay" and follow him on Twitter @marc_thaler.