Cameron Peck, 17, of Olympia, Wash., and Victoria Tanco, 14, of Bradenton, Fla., were named the Rolex Junior Players of the Year by the American Junior Golf Association Monday.
Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Rolex Junior Player of the Year award recognizes one boy and one girl who had the most outstanding year in junior golf events at the national level. Past recipients have gone on to become some of the most esteemed players on the PGA and LPGA Tours, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III, Hunter Mahan, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Both ended the season ranked No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings, helping them earn this distinction and secure spots on their respective Rolex Junior All-America First Teams.
Peck’s year was highlighted by four victories, including two wins at AJGA Invitationals and the U.S. Junior Amateur. Peck is the first player from the Pacific Northwest, boy or girl, to win this award, which is being bestowed in 2008 for the 31st time. The Timberline High School senior has verbally committed to Texas A&M University.
Tanco ascended to the top of the junior golf ranks in her first year of playing junior golf in the United States. From Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tanco had three national victories, two of which came at AJGA Invitationals. Tanco now becomes the second-youngest girl to win Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors. LPGA Tour standout In-Bee Park was five months younger than Tanco when she was presented the award at 14 years old in 2002.
Their accomplishments during the past season will be heralded Nov. 23 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet held at Ginn Reunion Resort. The awards ceremony, dubbed “The Greatest Night in Junior Golf,” will also trumpet the achievements of the rest of golf’s next generation by means of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams, HP Scholastic Junior All-America Teams and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award.
About Peck's Season...
Peck notched the first win of his AJGA career at the Wellstone Communities Junior at Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, in April. His 72-70-72–214 tournament total gave him a two-stroke victory over the 45-player field.
In June he made a strong statement by winning the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational in Greensboro, N.C., in dominant fashion, posting a 66-71-68-66–271 tournament total. This win came at Sedgefield Country Club, home of the PGA TOUR’s Wyndham Championship, against 99 of the best boys in the world. This six-stroke win earned him a sponsor’s exemption into the Wyndham Championship in August, where he shot 71-71 and missed the cut by seven strokes.
Win No. 3 came at the HP Boys Junior Championship staged at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in July. At another boys-only AJGA Invitational, Peck came out on top by improving his score during each round and finishing with a 73-72-70-69–284 tournament total, good enough to win by one.
He would solidify his place as junior golf’s top player at the U.S. Junior Amateur one week later. After advancing from the stroke play qualifying portion of the event as the No. 3 seed at Shoal Creek Golf Course in Birmingham, Ala., Peck marched through match play and defeated fellow first-team Rolex Junior All-American Evan Beck of Virginia Beach, Va., 10 & 8 in the 36-hole final.
At season’s end, Peck’s four victories and four additional top-11 finishes separated him as junior golf’s top boy in 2008.
About Tanco's Season...
After a tie for third at the Orange Bowl International Golf Championship this past December and a win at the Scott Robertson Memorial in May, Tanco qualified for the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, her first-ever AJGA event, and prevailed over the top 98 other junior girls in the world. Tanco posted a 68-70-72–210 tournament total at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., and was vaulted toward the top of the Polo Golf Rankings.
She continued her strong play throughout the summer by tying for 17th at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, tying for 11th at the McDonald’s Betsy Rawls Girls Championship, advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open and competing on the Canon Cup East Team.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Tanco claimed the No. 1 ranking. This came with a season-ending win at the AJGA’s PING Invitational at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. Her 79-72-73–224 performance gave her three victories, including two AJGA Invitationals. She became the only player in the Girls Division to boast such an accomplishment in 2008.
Since moving to the United States, she has yet to finish outside the top 20 in seven starts.
This Rolex Junior Player of the Year Award would not be possible without the support of Rolex, the AJGA’s Premier Partner and supporter of the Association since 1983.
Along with the sponsorship of the Rolex Junior Players of the Year, Rolex Junior All-America Teams and Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet, the distinguished timepiece manufacturer also continues to support two of the AJGA’s most competitive major championships: the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Rolex Girls Junior Championship.
Rolex is also the Founding Corporate Partner of the Achieving Competitive Excellence Grant. The ACE Grant is designed to give top-flight junior golfers the ability to play a national junior golf schedule regardless of their financial resources. In 2007, with the help of Rolex and various individual donors, nearly 80 junior golfers were able to compete in events they otherwise could not afford.
Check out the complete list of Rolex Junior All-Americans here.