Junior golf’s top honors were announced Tuesday by the American Junior Golf Association as 144 juniors were named Polo Golf Junior All-Americans.
The 2003 Polo Golf Junior All-America teams are comprised of juniors representing 30 states and eight foreign countries. These juniors will be honored Nov. 25 during the Polo Golf Junior All-America Awards Banquet at Walt Disney World Resort’s Yacht Club.
Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Polo Golf Junior All-America teams recognize players who have proven themselves as the world’s premier junior golfers. This year’s Polo Golf Junior All-Americans distinguished themselves through their outstanding play in 72 national events, 51 of which were conducted by the AJGA.
“The AJGA takes great pride in naming the Polo Golf Junior All-America teams,” said Stephen Hamblin, AJGA executive director. “Because of the amount of talent and competition today, this banquet truly has become the greatest night in junior golf as it honors the best players from around the world.”
The AJGA’s list of past first-team Polo Golf Junior All-Americans is comprised of many of today’s PGA and LPGA Tour stars, including: Bob Estes, Mark Calcavecchia, Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Charles Howell III, Kelli Kuehne, Brandie Burton, Emilee Klein, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Beth Bauer and Candie Kung. This marks the 26th year of the AJGA All-America team and the sixth year of sponsorship of the All-America teams by Polo Golf, a division of Polo Ralph Lauren.
Five states and two foreign countries are represented on boys First Team
Two Californians highlight the boys First Team: Daniel Im of La Habra and James Lee of Indio. A two-time, first-team Polo Golf Junior All-American, Im picked up a national victory at the AJGA Lennar Junior at Mission Hills, while Lee had a solid season with a runner-up showing at the AJGA Greater Hartford Open Junior Classic and a quarterfinal appearance at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
Georgia natives Brian Harman of Savannah and Chris Kirk of Woodstock make their first appearance on the First Team. Harman won three major events: the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior, Chrysler AJGA Boys Invitational and the U.S. Junior Amateur. Kirk earned his 2003 win at the AJGA TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan over Easter weekend.
Two North Carolina natives, Brendon Todd of Cary and Webb Simpson of Raleigh, added their names to the list of first-team honorees. Todd captured the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions title, one of the nation’s most prestigious stroke play events. Adding his name to a list of past champions that includes Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Charles Howell III and David Gossett. A University of Georgia freshman, Todd also posted three other top-five finishes at AJGA events. Simpson is a familiar face on the All-America squad as this is the third year he has been named to the First Team. Simpson has three top-five finishes listed on his 2003 resume.
Jonathan Moore of Portland, Ore., returns to the First Team for a third consecutive year. Moore also made his third showing on this year’s AJGA Canon Cup West Team.
Santiago, Chile, native Martin Ureta collected three national top-10 finishes, including runner-up honors at the AJGA Hargray Junior Classic in June. In July, he tied for sixth at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions with rounds of 68-73-72-74–287 before heading to the University of North Carolina.
Patton Kizzire of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a semifinalist at the U.S. Junior Amateur, makes his first appearance on the First Team after garnering his first national victory in his home state at the AJGA Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior Classic.
Rounding out the First Team is Tom Davis of Burgengary, Australia. Davis earned Polo Golf Junior All-America status after claiming the crown at the AJGA hp Boys Junior Championship in August and finishing sixth at the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior.
Girls First Team includes nine returning Polo Golf Junior All-Americans
In the Girls Division, three Californians highlight the First Team. Amie Cochran of Torrance, Paula Creamer of Pleasanton and Jane Park of Beaumont all earned first-team honors after impressive 2003 seasons. Cochran’s first career national victory came at the AJGA Lennar Junior at Mission Hills. Cochran also tied for second at the AJGA Southwestern Junior Classic and the AJGA I.R.I. Golf Group Arizona National Junior. The 17-year-old tied the AJGA’s Girls Division 18-hole scoring record in July (set by Leigh Anne Hardin in 1997) with an impressive round of 62 at the AJGA event in Tuscon, Ariz.
Creamer, who has a total of 16 career national victories to her credit, won the first five tournaments she played in the 2003 season, including the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic and the Doral/Publix Junior Classic. The 17-year-old continued the streak in the spring by winning the Junior Heritage, AJGA Heather Farr Classic and Scott Robertson Memorial Junior. She finished out the season with wins at the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship and Lessing’s AJGA Classic.
Jane Park picked up her third career national victory in 2003 at the AJGA McDonald’s Betsy Rawls Girls National Championship and carded runner-up honors at the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the AJGA Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior Classic. Also in 2003, she advanced to the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Three girls on the First Team hail from Florida: Brittany Lincicome of Seminole, In-Bee Park of Eustis and Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton. Lincicome finished the 2003 season with eight top-five finishes, including wins at the AJGA TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Chateau Elan and the AJGA First American Title Avila Junior Classic. The 18-year-old also carded a third-place finish at the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior.
Pressel picked up her first win of the season at the AJGA Buick Junior Open presented by Golfweek and followed it up the next week with another win at the AJGA Toldo Group Eastern Canadian Junior. She also made the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2003.
In-Bee Park, the 2002 Polo Golf Girls Junior Player of the Year, won the 2002 Orange Bowl International Junior Invitational and then added four more titles to her resume. Her first crown in 2003 was captured at the AJGA Dunlop Carolina Junior Championship in June, followed by a win at the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. She won the AJGA PING Junior at The Peninsula Club before capping off the season with a win at the AJGA Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior Classic in September.
Amanda Blumenherst of Scottsdale, Ariz., a 2002 second-team Polo Golf Junior All-American, claimed four AJGA victories this summer. Her 16-stroke win at the AJGA Boyne Highlands Junior tied an AJGA record for largest winning margin.
Ashley Knoll of The Woodlands, Texas, a freshman at Oklahoma State University, earned three consecutive victories in 2003. She took top honors at the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior and the AJGA Justin Leonard/Deloitte & Touche Junior Team Championship where she teamed with fellow Texan Mallorie Underwood of Montgomery. She claimed her final win of her junior career at the AJGA OSSO Junior at Oak Tree.
New Jersey native Sukjin-Lee Wuesthoff of Toms River fought back from a five-hole deficit to defeat defending champion In-Bee Park in the U.S. Girls Junior Championship to pick up her first national victory. She also won the Independent Insurance Agents Junior Classic.
Julieta Granada of Asuncion, Paraguay, never finished out of the top 10 in competition in 2003 and picked up wins at the AJGA Hargray Junior Classic and the AJGA ClubCorp Junior Players Championship. She also took runner-up honors at the AJGA First American Title Avila Junior Classic.
Ten boys and 10 girls were chosen for the Second Team, while 10 boys were named third-team Polo Golf Junior All-Americans. Fifty-eight boys and 36 girls were honorable mention selections. The Polo Golf Junior Players of the Year will be released to the media Wednesday.