ROLEX TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Hiwan Golf Club
Evergreen, Colo. • July 5 - 9
FRANCIS CLAIMS TOP HONORS AT ROLEX TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Simon holds off competition to win first AJGA tournament
EVERGREEN, Colo. – Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished strong by shooting a final-round even-par 70 despite constant rain showers to win the Rolex Tournament of Champions Sunday. Third-round leader Ashleigh Simon of Johannesburg, South Africa, fended off a charging Girls Division to win her first-ever American Junior Golf Association tournament at Hiwan Golf Club.
Conducted by the AJGA, the Rolex Tournament of Champions was a 72-hole stroke-play event with a cut in both divisions after two rounds. The 144-player field featured 67 Rolex Junior All-Americans and players from 30 states and five countries. After Friday’s round, the field was cut to 77 players with the cut line at 7-over-par, 147, in the Boys Division and 15-over-par, 155, in the Girls Division. In the event's 29th year, the Rolex Tournament of Champions was one of 10 Invitationals on the AJGA schedule and is the longest running AJGA tournament.
Heading into Sunday’s final round, Francis carried a one-stroke lead, and even with inclement weather conditions, he was able to carry his momentum throughout the final round.
“I felt really good with my swing,” Francis said. “I went out and somewhat struggled, but I kept playing solid golf and I ended up winning.”
The win at the Rolex Tournament of Champions gave Francis his second AJGA Invitational victory of the summer after winning The Thunderbird International in May. Francis said coming in he had one goal in mind.
“This is my second major this season, and I went in with the goal of winning,” Francis said.
One stroke behind Francis in second place was Peter Uihlein of Bradenton, Fla., carding a four-day total of 1-under-par 279. Rounding out the Boys Division were Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash., who finished in third place, two strokes back and Drew Kittleson of Scottsdale, Ariz., in fourth place with a score of 281. Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., and Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif., tied for fifth place with four-day totals of 283.
Simon came out firing in Sunday’s final round after leading the Girls Division by five strokes after three rounds. The win at the Rolex Tournament of Champions is Simon’s first AJGA victory and she said to win an invitational is something special.
“It’s a special feeling to come over here to America and compete against the best,” Simon said. “I’m not use to playing against juniors and to win in America is a great feeling.”
A 1 hour, 51 minute fog delay made play difficult for the 84 juniors, and Simon said the weather only made the course that more difficult.
“It was a very tough day out there,” Simon said. “I somehow managed to get the job done and I’m happy.”
Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished the tournament in second place one stroke behind Simon with a four-day total of 287. Defending champion Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished Sunday’s final round in third place, two strokes behind Simon with a 288.
Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. Along with sponsoring the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Rolex is also the title partner of the Rolex Girls Championship and the proprietors of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.
For more information on the Rolex Tournament of Champions please contact National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.