After receiving an invitation from the Japan Junior Golf Association, the American Junior Golf Association selected a U.S. Team comprised of four boys and three girls to participate in the fourth-annual Honda International Junior Championship, the AJGA announced Thursday. The international team stroke play event will take place at Wild Duck Country Club in Ibaragi, Japan, Oct. 12-15, 2006. This will be the first time the United States is represented at the event, which will include teams from Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and others yet to be finalized.
The U.S. Team includes: Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif.; Arnond Vongvanij of Bradenton, Fla.; Philip Francis, Drew Kittleson, Esther Choe and Taylore Karle, all of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Lizette Salas of Azusa, Calif.
The AJGA employed its current rankings to identify the top 2007 high school graduates to represent the United States. In its inaugural year of selecting this team, the AJGA set a precedent of sending only high school seniors so different players will have a chance to compete in future Honda International Junior Championships.
Francis will anchor the boys squad in Japan, carrying with him the AJGA’s No. 1 overall ranking. In 2006, he has already claimed five junior titles, including the Thunderbird International Junior, Rolex Tournament of Champions and U.S. Junior Amateur. He will be joined by Fowler, ranked No. 2 in the Class of 2007, Vongvanij, No. 3, and Kittleson, No. 4. All four boys had a 2006 season stroke average under 72 and combined for seven junior titles.
On the girls’ team, Choe also brings with her a No. 1 overall Rolex AJGA Ranking to the event. She won the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and placed in the top three in four of the five other events she played in this season. Alongside Choe, Karle and Salas are tremendous talents, holding the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, in the 2007 rankings. This threesome combined for 13 top-five finishes including three AJGA titles during 2006.
A tournament practice round is scheduled for Oct. 12 with competition running from Oct. 13-15.