Junior golf’s top honors were announced Wednesday as 48 boys and 48 girls were named Rolex Junior All-Americans by the American Junior Golf Association.
Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Rolex Junior All-America Teams annually recognize those players who have established themselves as the world’s premier junior golfers. This year’s selections distinguished themselves through their outstanding play in 63 national events, 52 of which were conducted by the AJGA.
In 2006, the Rolex Junior All-America Teams were determined exclusively through the Polo Golf Rankings for the first time. Teams were reproportioned to include 12 players on the boys and girls first teams, 12 players on the boys and girls second teams, and 48 honorable mention receipients (24 boys, 24 girls)
The teams are comprised of 96 junior golfers, ages 13-19, from 20 states and three foreign countries. These standouts will be recognized Nov. 19 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet held at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga.
Former Rolex Junior All-Americans comprise the top players on both the PGA and LPGA Tours. Of the PGA TOUR’s current top-10 money leaders, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Trevor Immelman and David Toms were all Rolex Junior All-Americans. On the LPGA Tour, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Hee-Won Han and Paula Creamer were named Rolex Junior All-Americans as junior golfers before working their way to the top of the pay-for-play ranks. Other notable professional AJGA alumni who help make up the list of past Rolex Junior All-Americans include Rory Sabbatini, Stewart Cink, Brett Quigley, Lucas Glover, Brittany Lincicome, Sherri Steinhauer, Julieta Granada and Morgan Pressel.
In 2006, four first-team boys were named to the Rolex Junior All-America team for the third time with Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., leading the way. Francis, the only player in this year’s class to be named to the first team for the third consecutive year, captured his first AJGA title at the Heather Farr Classic in Mesa, Ariz., in April and never looked back. He would go on to win the Thunderbird International Junior (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Rolex Tournament of Champions (Evergreen, Colo.) and the U.S. Junior Amateur (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.).
Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Peter Uihlein and Arnond Vongvanij, both of Bradenton, Fla., were the other first teamers making their third overall appearance as Rolex Junior All-Americans. Lovemark, a freshman at the University of Southern California, won the 2005 Polo Golf Junior Classic and finished his AJGA career with two wins and 11 top-10 finishes. Uihlein, the 2005 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, had six top-five finishes in AJGA events in 2006, which included a win at the AJGA Craig Ranch Junior (McKinney, Texas) in April. Vongvanij finished in the top five in three of four AJGA tournaments in which he competed in 2006, including a win at the PING Junior at The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas) in April.
Six first-team selections celebrated their second appearance on the Rolex Junior All-America Team, including Bud Cauley of Jacksonville, Fla., Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif., Drew Kittleson of Scottsdale, Ariz., Kevin Tway of Edmond, Okla., and Richard Lee and Andrew Yun of Chandler, Ariz. Yun recently added a win at The PING Invitational (Stillwater, Okla.) to a resume that already included a win at the FootJoy Boys Junior Championship at Forest Oaks Country Club (Greensboro, N.C.) in June.
Jhared Hack of Heathrow, Fla., and Conrad Shindler of Coppell, Texas, marked their first appearances on the Rolex Junior All-America Team with first-team selections.
On the Girls’ side, two players, Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif., were named Rolex Junior All-Americans for the fourth consecutive year. Choe, now on the first team for the third straight season, finished an incredible 2006 season with a bang by winning The PING Invitational. She also won the Rolex Girls Junior Championship (Park City, Utah) in June. In 2006, Choe finished in the top three at all six AJGA tournaments she entered.
Harigae, a first-team selection in 2005, won her first AJGA event at the Heather Farr Classic. She would record two more top-five finishes at AJGA major tournaments in 2006 en route to her second first-team selection.
Sydney Burlison of Salinas, Calif., and Marika Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., are making their first appearances on the first team after being named Rolex Junior All-Americans in 2004 and 2005. Burlison claimed her first AJGA title at the PING Junior at The Woodlands and tied for fifth at the Thunderbird International Junior. Lendl won two AJGA tournaments in 2006, including a victory at the McDonald’s Betsy Rawls Girls Championship (Malvern, Pa.) an AJGA Invitational tournament.
Four first-teamers are making their second overall appearance as Rolex Junior All-Americans, including Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., Stephanie Kono of Honolulu, Isabelle Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., and Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas.
Four players, Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., Mindy Kim of Diamond Bar, Calif., Jenny Shin of Torrance, Calif., and Ashleigh Simon of Johannesburg, South Africa, were named Rolex Junior All-Americans for the first time. Shin defeated Hurst in the finals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior (Charlotte, N.C.), while Simon won the Rolex Tournament of Champions.
Rolex Watch, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became an AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. The distinguished timepiece maker is the proprietor of the Rolex Junior Players of the Year, Rolex Junior All-America Teams and the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet. Rolex also sponsors the Rolex Tournament of Champions and Rolex Girls Junior Championship, two of the AJGA’s most competitive major championships. As a Premier Partner, Rolex is the Founding Corporate Partner to the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program and an Official Partner of the biennial PING Junior Solheim Cup.
Click here for the full list of Rolex Junior All-Americans.