Ben Crancer, a recent graduate of Kirkwood (Mo.)
, finally hit the jackpot when he won the 40th annual Southern Junior Championship with 6-under-par 210 in Pinehurst, N.C.
Crancer, who completed the three-day tourney with a 1-under-par 71, had come close the last two years, but never before had finished on top.
He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "It feels awesome, because this was a really big tournament with a lot of really good junior golfers from all over the country. It was really nice to win, especially after getting second at state (Class 4). It helps erase that."
The 18-year-old had to hold off hard-charging Joshua Martin, a 15-year-old from Pinehurst, N.C. A star of the future, Martin trailed by just two strokes while taking runner-up honors. Crancer took a one-stroke lead on No. 3 before they matched scores over the next 14 holes. The champ clinched on the 18th when he knocked a 97-foot putt a couple feet short, then put it in for a par.
The victory enabled Crancer to earn an automatic berth in the 106th Southern Amateur Golf Championship July 18-21 in Little Rock, Ark.