May 8, 2013
In just two weeks, 78 junior golfers will head to Grayhawk Golf Club for the 14th Thunderbird International Junior. Among this talented group of players, 20 of them will travel from 12 countries to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the AJGA’s first summer Invitational.
Within the tournament’s history, champions of the event have continued their golf careers at the collegiate and professional level. The first Girls Division champion in 2000 was Virada Nirapathpongporn of Bangkok, Thailand, who went on to win the women’s NCAA Championship in 2002 while playing for Duke and the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2003. Belen Mozo of Cadiz, Spain, won the Thunderbird International Junior in 2004 and continued her career at the University of Southern California. She was a four-time NCAA All-American before joining the Symetra Tour and is in her second year on the LPGA Tour.
Twenty-nine girls will look to follow in the footsteps of these past champions at Grayhawk Golf Club this year, which includes 21 AJGA medalists and champions. ANNIKA Invitational Europe champion Linnea Strom of Hovas, Sweden, will compete in her second AJGA event after tying for fifth at the ANNIKA Invitational in Reunion, Fla.
Looking at the past champions on the boys’ side of the draw, one will find NCAA champions and PGA TOUR players. Current PGA TOUR player, Ryan Moore, won the Thunderbird International Junior in 2001. He followed his junior career at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas before turning professional and winning the 2012 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Casey Wittenberg won the Invitational in 2002 after being named Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 2001. He was recently honored as the 2012 Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
In the 2013 Boys Division, 23 of the 48 junior golfers are AJGA champions and medalists. Brad Dalke of McKinney, Texas, will look to repeat history after winning the event in 2011 as the AJGA’s youngest boys Invitational champion at 13 years, 9 months and 11 days.
Learn more about the Thunderbird International Junior and join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting @AJGAGolf and using the hashtag #AJGAThunderbird.