AJGA alumnae earn 2013 LPGA Tour cards


Former AJGA players Rebecca Lee-Bentham and Moriya Jutanugarn earned co-medalist honors at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, securing LPGA Tour cards for 2013.

Bentham of Toronto, posted five top-10s in her junior career, including a fifth-place finish at the 2008 Woodward Video Junior at The Greenbrier. She went on to compete for the Texas Longhorns.

Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, led all five rounds. The Rolex Junior All-American boasts 11 top-five showings, including victories at the 2011 Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic hosted by Longbow Golf Club and back-to-back wins at the Scott Robertson Memorial (2011 and 2012).

Other AJGA alumnae who earned 2013 Tour cards include:

Kathleen Ekey of Wadsworth, Ohio, collected five top-10 showing in AJGA events. In 2005, she capped her AJGA career with a victory at the AJGA Richmond Junior. The same year, the Rolex Junior All-American earned her second consecutive Hudson Junior title. Ekey signed with Furman before signing with Alabama where she was an All-American.

Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas, was a three-time Rolex Junior All-American and AJGA champion, earning victories at the 2006 and 2008 Genesis Shootout presented by the Valero Texas Open and the 2005 Stars of Texas Junior. A three-time All-American, McCloskey began her collegiate career at Pepperdine then transferred to the University of Southern California.

Laura Diaz of Scotia, N.Y., found success at the junior level compiling four top-10 finishes in national competition. She finished third at the Greater Greensboro Junior in 1992 and fifth at the 1993 Marriott at Sawgrass First Coast Junior Classic. Diaz went on to play at Wake Forest, earning the title of Female Athlete of the Year in 1997. She turned professional in 1997. Her professional career includes two victories in 2002, the Welch’s / Circle K Championship and the LPGA Corning Classic.

Brooke Pancake of Chattanooga, Tenn., posted 10 top-10 finishes in national junior competition. Her best performances were in 2006 at the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook hosted by Sean O’Hair and the Hank Haney IJGA Junior Open, where she had second-place showings. Pancake went on to play for the University of Alabama where she was named the SEC Female Athlete of the Year for 2011-2012.

Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C., was a two-time Rolex Junior All-American. Her junior record includes seven top-10 finishes. She won two consecutive events in 2006, winning the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic presented by State Mutual Insurance Company and the RTC Junior Classic. Ernst competed for LSU, where she led the Tigers to third-place finishes in both the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Championships and she was named the 2011 NCAA Individual Champion as a freshman.

Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., holds six AJGA titles on her junior record. The three-time Rolex Junior All-American won the PING Phoenix Junior in both 2005 and 2006. Karle signed with Pepperdine where she was a 2008 All-America and earned two career victories.

Irene Cho of La Habra, Calif., won two AJGA tournaments in addition to seven top-five finishes. A Rolex Junior All-American, Cho won the 2002 AJGA Morgan Run Junior and represented the West at the 2002 Wyndham Cup. Cho competed for the USC Trojans, posting two tournament wins and setting the school records for lowest round (64) and lowest 54-hole score (203).

Karlin Beck of Pike Road, Ala., Stephanie Sherlock of Barrie, Ontario, Kim Welch of Sacramento, Calif., Caroline Masson of Gladbeck, Germany, and Lauren Doughtie of Suffolk, Va., also finished within the top-20 to secure 2013 Tour cards.