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Speith, Ames join Classic field

Jordan Speith, the 19-year-old amateur wunderkind who has turned into a quickly rising professional, has been given a sponsor's exemption into the Greenbrier Classic.

Speith won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2009 and 2011, joining Tiger Woods as the only player to win that event multiple times. In between, he made the cut at the 2010 Byron Nelson Open as a 16-year-old, becoming the sixth-youngest player to do so in a PGA Tour event.

The Dallas native was still only 18 when he finished 21st at the U.S. Open. With a number of other top amateur awards and an NCAA Division I team championship at Texas, he turned pro last December.

Relying on sponsor's exemptions to get into tournaments, he has done nicely. In his third start, he tied for second at the Puerto Rico Open, firing a hole-in-one in the third round. With a seventh-place finish the next week at the Tampa Bay Championship, he was awarded "special temporary member" status, allowing him unlimited exemptions the rest of the year.

He should be able to earn his Tour card for 2014, as his money earned would rank him 64th. He has made nine of 13 cuts.

The Classic also announced via Twitter the commitment of Stephen Ames, champion of The Players Championship in 2006. Ames, 39, finished 21st at the inaugural Classic of 2010, and missed the cut last year.

He has seven professional wins, including four on the PGA Tour since turning pro in 1987. His last win came on Nov. 15, 2009 at the Children's Miracle Network Classic, here he defeated Justin Leonard and George McNeill in a playoff.

Ames was born in Trinidad and Tobago and has dual citizenship in Canada. He needs some big finishes - his championship exemptions run out after this season, and he is 150th in the FedExCup standings. That is 25 spots behind what is needed to retain full Tour privileges.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.

 


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