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Valley amateur makes Safeway field

Publication:The Arizona Republic
Author: John Davis
Date: 2/16/2006
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Esther Choe of Scottsdale and Angela Park of Torrance, Calif., secured berths in next month's Safeway International by taking top honors in the Safeway International Amateur Open.

Park, ranked No. 3 among U.S. girls amateurs, topped a field of 21 players by shooting 4-under 68, 1 shot better than Choe, at Superstition Mountain Country Club.

Taylore Karle of Scottsdale and Azahara Muñoz, an Arizona State freshman from Spain, shot 70, earning them spots in a qualifier March 13 for the LPGA Tour event, March 16-19 at Superstition Mountain.

Bound for China

Six Arizona teenagers will represent the United States in the Aaron Baddeley World Junior Championship, an international event that will be played March 1-5 at Dragon Lake Golf Club in Guangzhou, China.

The Arizona team includes Drew Kittleson, Wendy LaBauve, Austyn Karle and Ashley Smith of Scottsdale, Cameron EDENS of Phoenix and Jonathan Khan of Tucson.

John Gunby, manager of Shalimar Golf Club and the Southwest Section of the PGA Junior Golf Leader of the Year, will accompany the players.

Golfers from eight countries will play in team and individual competition. The top boys finisher will receive an invitation to play in next year's Australian Open, and the girls winner will receive invitations to play in the 2007 Women's Australian Open, ANZ Ladies Masters and the Titanium Enterprises event on the Australian LPGA Tour.

Philip Francis of Scottsdale won the event two years ago and played in the Australian Open as a result.

First Tee event

A dedication for the First Tee program at Desert Mirage Golf Course in Glendale will be held at 10 a.m. March 4. Desert Mirage became the Valley's second First Tee site last year.

The event will include a junior clinic for about 100 children. Among those taking part will be First Tee regional manager Henry Sandles, Phoenix Thunderbirds representatives, Glendale Mayor Elaine Struggs and former Vice President Dan Quayle.

Parents seminar

A free educational seminar for parents of junior golfers will be presented by the American Junior Golf Association at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe.

The program, hosted by the Junior Golf Association of Arizona and Southwest Section of the PGA, will provide information on deciding what types of competition to enter, how go pursue college golf scholarships and other opportunities on local and national levels.

Although the program is geared toward parents, junior golfers are welcome to attend. Information: (602) 944-6168.

Chip shots

John Jackson, golf director at the Phoenician for the past 16 years, has joined Scottsdale Golf Group as vice president of private club operations. Jackson, a former Arizona State All-American and U.S. Public Links champion, was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 2005.

• Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Paradise Valley Country Club and Phoenix Country Club have been ranked in Golf Connoisseur's 100 most prestigious private clubs in America in the magazine's February issue. Pine Valley in Clementon, N.J., was ranked No. 1.

The Short Game

Jack Nicklaus, who ended his participation in major championships at last year's British Open, has declined his annual invitation to play in the Masters. He will attend the Champions Dinner on Tuesday and the Golf Writers Association of America dinner Wednesday of tournament week, but he will not compete. This year marks the 20th anniversary of his sixth and last Masters victory.

Former U.S. Golf Association President Fred Ridley has been named this year's recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the organization's highest honor.

Kevin Stadler lost his PGA Tour card for this year but doesn't lack for a place to play. By winning last week's Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, he became exempt on the European Tour and Australasian Tour. He already was exempt on the Nationwide Tour and wil