Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, and Maxwell Moldovan of Uniontown, Ohio, join a historical list of the American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Junior Player of the Year award recipients: Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn and Inbee Park.
Moldovan becomes the first Ohio native and first Midwestern male to earn the prestigious award while Zhang is the 12th California girl to earn the prestigious award, the fifth in the past five years (Yealimi Noh, 2018; Andrea Lee, 2014; Alison Lee, 2013; Kristen Park, 2010).
Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Rolex Junior All-America Teams annually recognize the world’s premier junior golfers. The 2019 teams honor 96 junior golfers, 48 boys and 48 girls, ages 14-19, from 25 states and eight countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela. These young men and women distinguished themselves through outstanding play in 135 national junior golf events, 120 of which were conducted by the AJGA. The teams were determined exclusively through the Rolex AJGA Rankings as of October 15.
Zhang, Moldovan, and the 2019 Rolex Junior All-America Teams will be honored Sunday, November 24 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet, live streamed from PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “The Greatest Night in Junior Golf” will also celebrate the achievements of the AJGA’s Scholastic Junior All-America Team and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award recipient. The Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet also serves as the official start of Rolex Tournament of Champions week, the first official AJGA event of the 2020 season.
In 2019, the 16-year-old Stanford verbal commit never finished outside the top three in AJGA play to end the season No. 1 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
The high school junior opened the season with a third-place finish at the ANA Junior Inspiration, finished tied for runner-up at the Thunderbird International Junior and defended her title at the Swinging Skirts AJGA Invitational. With the win – her seventh national junior golf title among events recognized by the Rolex AJGA Rankings – she will compete again on an LPGA exemption at this week’s Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC.
The Rolex Junior Player of the Year award means the world to me. It is the highest achievement in junior golf, and I will feel extremely lucky to see my name next to some of the best in the game. I’ve played against amazing junior golfers from the United States and from around the world, and this award makes me extremely motivated to continue to play well and set goals.
“The Rolex Junior Player of the Year award means the world to me,” Zhang said. “It is the highest achievement in junior golf, and I will feel extremely lucky to see my name next to some of the best in the game. I’ve played against amazing junior golfers from the United States and from around the world, and this award makes me extremely motivated to continue to play well and set goals.”
Zhang was nearly flawless in match play in 2019 with a quarterfinal finish at the U.S. Girls’ Junior and scoring to help the United States PING Junior Solheim Cup to another team championship. Zhang played on both the 2017 and 2019 USA squads, contributing to the Americans’ fifth and sixth consecutive victories. She is ranked among the top in the world as an amateur as well as a junior – No. 23 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings – and with her 2019 selection, earned a third consecutive berth on the AJGA’s Rolex Junior All-America first team, and her fourth overall honor.
Zhang’s 2019 highlights:
· Four-time Rolex Junior All-American, three consecutive years on the first team
· Defended her title at the 2019 Swinging Skirts AJGA Invitational and will play on the coinciding LPGA exemption in October
· Never finished outside the top three in AJGA tournaments in 2019 – tied for runner-up at the Thunderbird International Junior at third at the ANA Junior Inspiration
· Seven career national junior golf victories
· Quarterfinalist at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship
· Helped the PING Junior Solheim Cup United States team win its fifth and sixth straight team championships – in 2019, in Scotland
· Finished eighth in the Pan American Games in Peru
· Won the Toyota Junior World Cup
· Competed in the U.S. Women’s Open and Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship
The Green High School senior and Ohio State verbal commit earned Rolex Junior All-America honors for the first time, finishing the season No. 1 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Moldovan was hot during two weeks of summer match play (9-0-1) – one week winning the Polo Golf Junior Classic at Liberty National and the next, helping the East Team to a Wyndham Cup victory.
I had a really good year … definitely the best of my career so far. My goal was to finish in the top 15 in Invitationals and try to win an AJGA tournament. I won in 2016 and 2017, but not last year. I can’t thank God, my family and friends enough for all they’ve done in my life. My faith has led to great things and winning this award is a true honor that reflects God’s glory.
Moldovan finished the 2019 season with a chip-in good for a T4 finish at The Junior PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass – an event modeled after THE PLAYERS Championship – to solidify his sixth top-10 national junior golf finish recognized by the Rolex AJGA Rankings, and a spot on the United States Junior Presidents Cup squad. The second biennial edition of the match play event will be contested in December before the professionals play at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Moldovan started the summer second place at the Memorial Junior hosted by Sung Hyun Park at Ohio State’s Scarlet course.
“It was great to play well at the course where I’m going to play every day for the next few years in college,” Moldovan said. “Winning would’ve been even better there, but not winning gave me the motivation to play well and win at Polo.”
Moldovan’s 2019 highlights:
· First-time Rolex Junior All-American
· Won Polo Golf Junior Classic at Liberty National in the event’s return to match play
· Three-time AJGA career champion
· Undefeated in Wyndham Cup East Team matches (4-0-0) en route to a team victory
· Finished runner-up at the Memorial Junior hosted by Sung Hyun Park and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club
· T4, The Junior PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass
· Collected six top-10 national junior golf finishes in 2019
· Played in the U.S. Amateur and won the Ohio Amateur Championship
· Selected to 2019 United States Junior Presidents Cup Team
ACE Grant foundations
Moldovan and Zhang also represent 12 total 2019 Rolex Junior All-Americans who received financial aid through the AJGA’s ACE Grant program, established in 2003. Over the years, more than 2,000 talented junior golfers have turned $4 million in junior golf opportunities into $15 million in college scholarships. The program provides financial assistance, subsidized by private donors and AJGA professional alumni, who believe all talented junior golfers should have the opportunity to compete … no matter their family’s financial situation.
Moldovan, whose father is a golf instructor and mother is a police officer, has fundraised with the AJGA’s Leadership Links program to help repay the generosity of a program which has unequivocally helped him reach his goals.
“Without the ACE Grant, I can say I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have played in some events or traveled across the country. The ACE Grant has provided so many opportunities.”
Zhang said the financial reimbursement allows her the opportunity to compete unhindered by the financial constraints of a single income family.
“The ACE Grant has been such an important part of my junior golf career,” Zhang said. “So many people don’t have the opportunity to play, and ultimately, this program helps so many people. I’ve had so many great experiences with the AJGA … I’ve built great friendships, played so many great events, and become a little more comfortable in competing in tournaments. The AJGA, and the ACE Grant, has helped me grow as a person and as a player.”
Next-level Rolex Junior All-American success
Rolex Junior All-Americans have a long history of success. Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, and Inbee Park are among the many Rolex Junior All-Americans who’ve achieved in college and beyond.
In 2019, AJGA alumni Henry Shimp and two-time Rolex Junior All-American Miranda Wang clinched the NCAA Division I team championships for Stanford and Duke, respectively. 2015 first team Rolex Junior All-American Matthew Wolff won the Division I men’s individual title at Oklahoma State and his first PGA TOUR event, joining Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods as the third player to do so. Wolff also earned the 2019 Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins Award titles. On Tour, two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year Woods claimed a fifth Masters, and 15th major overall. Koepka, a 2007 Rolex Junior All-American, defended his PGA Championship title wire-to-wire. Three-time first team Rolex Junior All-American Thompson sits in the top six of the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings, and LPGA’s Race to the CME Globe, with two top-three major finishes and a 2019 victory. Four-time Rolex Junior All-American Angel Yin and AJGA alum Ally McDonald tied the record in September for the largest four-ball victory in Solheim Cup history (7&5).
An unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 500 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, Rolex is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.
2019 Rolex Junior All-Americans (total honors)
Boys – First Team
Canon Claycomb of Bowling Green, Kentucky (4)
Connor Creasy of Abingdon, Virginia (2)
Jack Heath of Charlotte, North Carolina
Bo Jin of (China) Encinitas, California (2)
Maxwell Moldovan of Uniontown, Ohio - 2019 Boys Rolex Junior Player of the Year
Joseph Pagdin of (United Kingdom) Orlando, Florida
Bo Peng of (China) Lake Mary, Florida
Brett Roberts of Coral Springs, Florida
Vishnu Sadagopan of Pearland, Texas
Taehoon Song of (South Korea) Buena Park, California
Jackson Van Paris of Pinehurst, North Carolina (3)
Karl Vilips of (Australia) Wesley Chapel, Florida (4)
Girls – First Team
Ty Akabane of Danville, California (2)
Phoebe Brinker of Wilmington, Delaware (2)
Jensen Castle of West Columbia, South Carolina
Briana Chacon of Whittier, California (2)
Xin (Cindy) Kou of (China) La Habra, California (4)
Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California (3)
Brianna Navarrosa of San Diego, California (3)
Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Florida (3)
Amanda Sambach of Davidson, North Carolina
Yuka Saso of Manila, Philippines
Erica Shepherd of Greenwood, Indiana (5)
Rose Zhang of Irvine, California (4) - 2019 Girls Rolex Junior Player of the Year
Boys – Second Team
Aaron Du of (China) Sanford, Florida
J. Holland Humphries of Austin, Texas (2)
Piercen Hunt of (Canada) Hartland, Wisconsin
Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut
Brian Ma of Milpitas, California
Andy Mao of Johns Creek, Georgia
Dylan Menante of Carlsbad, California (2)
William Moll of Houston, Texas (3)
Dawson Ovard of Frisco, Texas
Gordon Sargent of Birmingham, Alabama (2)
Ian Siebers of Bellevue, Washington (2)
Keaton Vo of Austin, Texas
Girls – Second Team
Zoe Antoinette Campos of Valencia, California (3)
Sadie Englemann of Austin, Texas (4)
Annabell Fuller of London, United Kingdom
Sophie Guo of (China) Orlando, Florida (3)
Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tennessee (5) - 2017 Girls Rolex Junior Player of the Year
Alyssa Montgomery of Knoxville, Tennessee (2)
Michaela Morard of Huntsville, Alabama (5)
Bohyun Park of (South Korea) Farmers Branch, Texas (2)
Catherine Park of Irvine, California
Megan Schofill of Monticello, Florida (2)
Christine Wang of Houston, Texas (2)
Kelly Xu of Claremont, California
Boys – Honorable Mention
Jake Beber-Frankel of Miami, Florida (2)
Trey Bosco of Austin, Texas (2)
Stephen Campbell Jr. of Richmond, Texas
Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Virginia
You Seong Choi of (South Korea) Hacienda Heights, California
Tucker Clark of Phoenix, Arizona
George Duangmanee of Fairfax, Virginia (2)
Nicholas Dunlap of Greer, South Carolina
David Ford of Peachtree Corners, Georgia
Nathan Franks of Roebuck, South Carolina
Andrew Goodman of Norman, Oklahoma
Austin Greaser of Vandalia, Ohio (2)
Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Leopoldo Herrera III of (Venezuela) Doral, Florida
Andrew Yong. H Jung of (South Korea) San Diego, California
Scotty Kennon of Bradenton, Florida
Caden McMackin of Laguna Beach, California
Yuki Moriyama of (Japan) Las Vegas, Nevada
Luke Potter of Encinitas, California (2)
Drew Salyers of Howard, Ohio
Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley, Massachusetts (2)
Tyler Wilkes of Tampa, Florida
Wells Williams of West Point, Mississippi
Alexander Yang of Carlsbad, California (2)
Girls – Honorable Mention
Amari Avery of Riverside, California (3)
Sophia Bae of Norwood, New Jersey
Hailey Borja of Lake Forest, California (2)
Jillian Bourdage of Tamarac, Florida
Camille Boyd of Yorba Linda, California
Jennifer Cleary of Wilmington, Delaware
Macy Fox of Austin, Texas (2)
Megha Ganne of Holmdel, New Jersey
Melanie Green of Medina, New York
Jiarui (Joyce) Jin of (China) Encinitas, California (2)
Hailey Jones of Dallas, Texas (4)
Rachel Kuehn of Asheville, North Carolina (3)
Mackenzie Lee of North Little Rock, Arkansas
Faith Low of Foster City, California
Kaleiya Romero of San Jose, California
Calynne Rosholt of Cedar Park, Texas (2)
Brooke Seay of Rancho Santa Fe, California (5)
Latanna Stone of Riverview, Florida (2)
Kailie Vongsaga of Diamond Bar, California (3)
Casey Weidenfeld of Pembroke Pines, Florida
Nicole Whiston of San Diego, California (3)
Ashley Yun of West Covina, California
Michelle Zhang of (China) Plano, Texas
Emily Zhu of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada