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Best in the world featured at PING Junior Solheim Cup

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ABOUT THE EVENT: Modeled after the Solheim Cup, the PING Junior Solheim Cup biennially features the 12 best female junior golfers (ages 12-18) from the United States against the 12 best junior girls from Europe. The team match play event includes foursomes, four-ball and singles matches played over two days and rotates between U.S. and European host sites coinciding with the Solheim Cup.      

SHARED VENUE: The PING Junior Solheim Cup is being contested for the ninth time in 2017 at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa, and is the first time domestically the event has shared a host venue. The United States leads the all-time series 5-2-1 and has won the previous four contests, including 2015, which was the first time either team has won on foreign soil.

GRADUATION RATE: Since the first PING Junior Solheim Cup in 1992, 19 players have graduated to play in the Solheim Cup. Three have done so just two years after they played as a junior, including Angel Yin who will compete on the United States Solheim Cup team in 2017. 

PRO PIPELINE: Twelve of the 24 women playing the 2017 Solheim Cup are PING Junior  Solheim Cup alumni (United States: Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson and Angel Yin; Europe: Carlota Ciganda, Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Caroline Masson, Anna Nordqvist, Florentyna Parker, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Melissa Reid.) Brittany Lincicome (USA) and Carlota Ciganda (EUR) each represented a PING Junior Solheim Cup team twice – Lincicome in 2002 and 2003, Ciganda in 2005 and 2007.

AJGA TIES TO SOLHEIM CUP: Eighteen of the 24 Solheim Cup players have AJGA ties, including Stacy Lewis (USA) who was recently announced as a member of the AJGA’s Foundation Board of Directors, hosts a unique AJGA major championship which pairs boys and girls together, and funds an endowment for a finance internship. European team captain Annika Sorenstam hosts girls’ major championships around the world, including the annual ANNIKA Invitational, and serves as the AJGA’s National Chairman.

SORENSTAM EUROPEAN TEAM CONNECTION: The 2005 PING Junior Solheim Cup European team was captained by Charlotta Sorenstam and five of her players are on the 2017 Solheim Cup squad together (Parker, Reid, Ciganda, Nordqvist, Masson) with sister Annika.

ABOUT PING: An AJGA supporter since 1990 and Official Partner since 2002, PING supports the biennial PING Junior Solheim Cup, annual fall PING Invitational which helps determine season-ending Rolex Junior Player of the Year and the 96 top junior golfers in the world, PING College Golf Signing Day, and is the Official Golf Bag of the AJGA. PING also serves as a Global Partner of the Solheim Cup.

BEST IN THE WORLD: Eleven of the 12 United States PING Junior Solheim Cup players are Rolex Junior All-Americans – selected annually in the fall as the top 48 boys and girls in the world per the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Seven have combined to win some of the most prestigious events for junior golfers in 2017 including the ANA Junior Inspiration (conducted prior to the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration), ANNIKA Invitational, Junior PGA Championship, U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, Rolex Girls Junior Championship, Thunderbird International Junior and Polo Golf Junior Classic. Rolex, an AJGA partner over four decades, also serves as a Global Partner of the Solheim Cup.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: European captain Alison Nicholas is a two-time major winner with 12 LET and four LPGA victories, and some serious Solheim Cup experience. Nicholas was a six-time Solheim Cup player and two-time captain and vice-captain. United States captain Alice Miller played college golf at Arizona State and won eight times on the LPGA Tour, including the 1985 Nabisco Dinah Shore (ANA Inspiration). She served as LPGA President in 1993 and 1992 Solheim Cup United States captain.

COLLEGE TEAMMATES: Two sets of future college teammates are playing together this week: Alyaa Abdulghany and Jennifer Chang will play together at USC, while Gina Kim and Erica Shepherd will compete for Duke.  

THE SWEDEN CONNECTION: Six of the 12 European PING Junior Solheim Cup team members are from Sweden, including Amanda Linnér, who finished runner-up at the 2017 ANNIKA Invitational after a hotly-contested finish. USA team member Brooke Seay used a 30-foot putt to win a sudden-death playoff in February. Frida Kinhult advanced to the quarterfinals of match play at the 2016 Polo Golf Junior Classic for the first time in November. The No. 29 seed Kinhult won 8 & 7 over No. 4 seed (and USA team member) Emilia Migliaccio. Kinhult was defeated in the quarterfinals by USA team member Rachel Heck, who lost to the eventual champion in the semifinal. Sweden also won the European Girls Team Championship in July, a show of their current dominance in European girls’ golf, and a record eighth team title.

MATCH PLAY VETERANS: Austria’s Emma Spitz is the lone returning player from the 2015 European PING Junior Solheim Cup team. She went 2-1-0 in her matches; her only loss was to Angel Yin, who will appear on the 2017 U.S. Solheim Cup team. Spitz also competed in the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup, finished ninth in the Junior Orange Bowl and second at the Allianz German Girls’ Open. Kaitlyn Papp returns for the United States as one of the most experienced players on the team. The University of Texas signee is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American, four-time Wyndham Cup West Team member, 2016 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team member and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball champion.

MATCH PREVIEWS:

7:30 a.m. – Emilia Migliaccio and Rachel Heck make a strong opening combo for the United States, with experience playing together in two Wyndham Cups (the AJGA’s annual East versus West Ryder Cup-style format with boys and girls and four-ball, foursomes, mixed four-ball, mixed foursome and singles matches). Migliaccio, a three-time Rolex Junior All-American, went undefeated at the Junior Ryder Cup in 2016, and put together a strong 6&5 four-ball Wydham Cup showing with Heck in July. Sweden’s Maja Stark and Italy’s Letizia Bagnoli competed against each other at the European Team Championships, and Bagnoli captured the Portuguese International Ladies’ Amateur Championship in January.

7:40 a.m. – Europe’s pairing of Beatrice Wallin and Frida Kinhult will channel their time together on the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup team. Kinhult, with a Rolex AJGA Ranking just outside the top 100, won the Spanish International Ladies’ Amateur Championship and made it to the quarterfinals during the 2016 Polo Golf Junior Classic. Americans Gina Kim and Jennifer Chang will have some chemistry together after competing in four-ball and foursomes together at the 2017 Wyndham Cup.

7:50 a.m. – This pairing features Lucy Li, who made history as the youngest girl to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at age 11, and three years later was the lone amateur to make the cut at the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration after her AJGA title at the ANA Junior Inspiration in March. Austria’s Emma Spitz narrowly defeated Li and her partner 1-up in the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup. Spitz’s partner Esther Henseleit of Germany will play opposite American Yealimi Noh.

8:00 a.m. – Papp returns to the PING Junior Solheim Cup seeking match play redemption in this event. She had a strong showing at the 2017 Wyndham Cup, where she and partner Brooke Seay competed in foursomes match in July. The four-time Rolex Junior All-American, who is committed to Texas, brings a deep experience in this format after winning the 2016 U.S. Women’s Four-Ball. Italians Alessia Nobilio and Alessandra Fanali have match play experience from the European Girls Team Championships.

8:10 a.m. – France’s Mathilde Claisse, who won the stroke play portion of the European Girls Team Championship, and Julia Engstrom, who competed in the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup, will pair against Rose Zhang and Youngin Chun of the United States. Zhang won the 2017 Junior PGA Championship and Chun has captured five AJGA titles in three years, most recently the 2017 Polo Golf Junior Classic. Chun has an impressive match 6-3-3 Wyndham Cup record in three years and was the 2016 Polo Golf Junior Classic (match play) runner-up.

8:20 a.m. – The anchor match features recently-crowned U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd with Alyaa Abdulghany for the United States. The pair halved in mixed four-ball Wyndham Cup competition in July and Abulghany got the edge in foursomes. Abdulghany, who is playing her final junior event before beginning school at USC on Monday, has an overall match play record of 8-4-3 between three Wyndham Cups and the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup. Shepherd has finished in the top five in her last four national junior golf events of 2017. Linn Grant of Sweden, and Amanda Linnér of Sweden, will team up for Europe. Grant has secured two international victories (Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Championship and Allianz German Girls’ Open) while Linnér won the French International Lady Junior Championship and the ANNIKA Invitational Europe in addition to her runner-up finish at the ANNIKA Invitational in Florida.