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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jacques, 12, Terrorizes U.S. Croquet Nationals

NARRAGANSETT, Rhode Island -- Jacques Fournier is lining up the game-winner.


Dressed in white from head to high-tops, the 12-year-old crouches on the grass and eyes the peg. He straightens up, plants his feet, lowers his head and swings the wooden croquet mallet between his legs.


His opponents, two 40-something men, look concerned as they watch from the sideline. His doubles partner, Jim Bast, who missed a chance to end the game on his last turn, is confident.


Fournier, eyes intent, swings through. TICK. The wooden ball rolls across the polished lawn and stops inches from the peg. One more stroke and the game is over.


The Phoenix boy won his second match of the day Thursday at the U.S. National Croquet Championships, this time in doubles play.


Two hours before the doubles win, Fournier destroyed his 34-year-old brother, Don Jr., in singles play.


"He gets me all the time in the front yard," Jacques said. "I guess I've just gotten better during this tournament. This was fun."


Jacques is the youngest player ever to compete in U.S. Nationals. He earned a spot in the tournament with a ninth-place finish at the Northwest-Southwest Regional Championships in Thousand Oaks, California, in June.


The freckle-faced boy with bright blue eyes who stands less than 1.5 meters tall gives himself about a 20 percent shot of taking the title from 1993 defending champ Mack Penwell of Pinehurst, North Carolina, or favored Johnny Osborn of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.


John Phaneuf of Kennebunkport, Maine, ran across Fournier in preliminary block play, beating him by one wicket.


"I had my hands full," Phaneuf said. "I told him, 'If you beat me you're going to see a grown man cry.'"