FOR RELEASE: Saturday, July 23, 2022
JACKSONVILLE, FL – 2020 Florida Times-Union high school golfer of the year Jason Duff fired a final-round 64 at Deerwood Country Club today to totally distance himself from the rest of the field and win the 61st playing of the Jacksonville Amateur Championship conducted by the Jacksonville Area Golf Association.
2022 JAGA Jacksonville Amateur champion
Jason Duff of Elkton, Fla. and UNF
Duff, who is about to enter his sophomore year at the University of North Florida, carded 66-71-64—201 for his three trips around the 7,093-yard, par-72 layout, and in so doing, set and then reset his previous competitive low round of 67.
“It was as close to a flawless round of golf as I’ve ever seen,” said co-runner-up Johnny Watts of Jacksonville.
Watts, who recently regained his amateur status after a stint on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, and Luke Cusick of St. Augustine shared second with 4-under-par 212 totals.
Another shot back at 213 were UNF assistant men’s golf coach Jeff Dennis and Uruguay’s top amateur Agustin Tarigo, who is on his way to Chicago to compete in this coming week’s 120th Western Amateur.
Defending champion Smith finished at even-par 216, good for a tie for ninth.
Duff entered the final round with only a two-shot lead over Watts and Osborn Theam of Jacksonville, with Dennis three back. The lead was three when Creekside grad Andrew Riley eagled the par-5 seventh. Playing in the group behind Riley, Duff countered with a birdie.
From there, the champion stepped on the gas and left his fellow competitors in the rearview mirror, adding birdies on Nos. 8, 11 and 12 and an eagle on No. 13, before closing with five straight pars for a bogey-free 32-32—64.
Duff did not miss a fairway and only missed two greens – the ninth by two paces and the 18th, where he got it up and down from a back bunker.
The championship was blessed with three days of excellent mid-summer weather – sunny, light breezes, 90-degree temperatures, and most importantly, no pop-up storms.
The contestants raved about the condition of the Deerwood layout, with the consensus being, “Deerwood was in the best shape I’ve ever seen it.”
Since 2000, the collective performance in the Amateur of current and former University of North Florida golfers has bordered on domination, particularly in the last four years. Only Mike Smith’s win last year interrupted the Osprey run (Jordan Batchelor/2019, Cody Carroll/2020, Duff/2022). Dating back to 2000, golfers with UNF roots have won the Amateur seven times in the last twelve years, and ten in all.
While complete records are not available, Duff’s 15-under-par winning score is the lowest since Sean Dale won in 2011 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club with 17-under played over 72 holes. The largest winning margin in recent years was nine by A.J. Crouch at Sawgrass Country Club in 2012.
Duff’s 64 is believed to be the second-best round in Jacksonville Amateur history, bettered only by Smith’s 63 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club’s Lagoon course in 2012.
Though just 20, Duff is no stranger to his fellow competitors on the Northeast Florida golf scene. While attending Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine, he captured the State 2A individual title in 2019 and that same year was named Florida Times-Union high school golfer of the Year. As a freshman at UNF this past year, the Elkton resident earned ASUN Conference freshman of the year honors.
One of the area’s more distinguished golfers, Bob Dickson of Ponte Vedra Beach and TPC Sawgrass, served as honorary starter on Saturday. Among his accomplishments on both the amateur and professional levels, the Oklahoma native is one of only four men to win the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur in the same year (1967). As a TOUR professional, he made six Greater Jacksonville Open starts at Deerwood, with a T8 in 1975 and a T12 in 1969 his best.
Honorary Starter Bob Dickson (middle), with live scoring
volunteer Joe Grippi (left), and Osborn Theam,
Jason Duff and Johnny Watts.
The championship featured 81 players, with 15 coming from outside JAGA’s footprint of Northeast Florida. Fifty-four players in the field had handicap indexes of 0 or less.
The Amateur is one of three JAGA-conducted events in which the top finishers are awarded World Amateur Golf Ranking points. The JAGA First Coast Amateur and the JAGA Match Play Championship are the other two.
Deerwood hosted the Jacksonville Amateur
for the first time since 2013.
The Jacksonville Amateur moves to San Jose Country Club next year, with Timuquana Country Club making its debut in the host club rotation in 2024. Jacksonville Golf and Country Club returns as host in 2025.
To review the complete summary of scores, click here.
Editor’s Note: Details from Garry Smit’s recap in the Florida Times-Union were used in this release.
NEXT UP FOR JAGA:
Things quiet down for JAGA until the fall arrives. Here is the fall lineup.
Established in 1954, JAGA celebrates its 69th year in 2022. It is a not-for-profit corporation comprised of approximately 40-member golf clubs located in Northeast Florida. JAGA’s mission is to promote golf, goodwill and community through tournaments and related events and activities. It conducts 12 tournaments, including six championship events and six others that feature team formats. JAGA also manages a college scholarship program that maintains financial aid for as many as 35 deserving students per year. Since 1974, the program has generated approximately $1.8 million in financial aid to approximately 375 students. Each year between five and eight new scholarships are awarded.
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