Harman, Granada Named Rolex Junior Players of the Year

Brian Harman of Savannah, Ga., and Julieta Granada of Asuncion, Paraguay, were named the 2004 Rolex Junior Players of the Year by the American Junior Golf Association Tuesday.

After garnering Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors in 2003, Harman, 17, becomes the fourth boy in the AJGA’s 27-year history to win the award more than once. Only Tracy Phillips (1979-80), Phil Mickelson (1986-88) and Tiger Woods (1991-92) can boast such an accomplishment.

Granada becomes the second player from South America to be named Rolex Junior Player of the Year. LPGA Tour player Jenny Lidback, who was born in Lima, Peru, was crowned Rolex Player of the Year in 1981. Including Lidback, Granada now joins Pearl Sinn (1985), Grace Park (1994, ‘96), Candie Kung (1999), Aree Song (2000) and In-Bee Park (2002) on the list of award winners born outside the United States.

By earning this honor, Harman and Granada secured a spot on their respective Rolex Junior All-America first teams. Their esteemed accomplishments during the 2004 season will be heralded Nov. 21 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet held at Sea Island Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga. The awards ceremony, dubbed “The Greatest Night in Junior Golf,” will also trumpet the achievements of the rest of golf’s next generation, the Rolex Junior All-America Teams and the HP Scholastic Junior All-America Team.

Harman started his 2004 season with a win at the Polo Golf Junior Classic last November, the same week he was honored as the 2003 Rolex Junior Player of the Year. In doing so, he became only the fourth player to win the award and that event during the same week (Tracy Phillips, 1979; Brian Watts, 1984; Tiger Woods, 1991).

After finishing tied for fourth at the MCI Junior Heritage in February, Harman shot 75-70-69–214 at the Thunderbird International Junior during Memorial Day Weekend, good for a tie for 10th.

His second victory of the 2004 season came at the FootJoy Boys Invitational. He successfully defended the title he won there in 2003 by posting a 68-70-74-70–282 tournament total. Harman avoided a four-way playoff by holing a 50-foot putt for birdie on the final hole of the championship. Add to this a T-9 finish at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and a run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur and it is evident how successful Harman was during 2004.

The sport began to take notice of Harman outside of junior golf as the year progressed, as he participated in two PGA TOUR events and the U.S. Amateur. Although he missed the cut at the MCI Heritage, he made the cut at the Buick Championship (73-67-71-73–284) and advanced to the match play portion of the U.S. Amateur. The Buick Championship annually awards a sponsor’s exemption to the previous year’s Rolex Junior Player of the Year.

To put Granada’s tremendous 2004 in perspective, one needs to look no further than her stroke play finishes. She never finished outside the top three in nine events, racking up three victories along the way. She was equally impressive in match play, as she won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship by defeating Curtis Cup team member Jane Park in the finals. She also advanced to the round of 16 in both the 2003 Polo Golf Junior Classic and the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Along with her victory at the U.S. Girls’, Granada also took home the titles at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, Randall Parker Shootout at Fieldstone and the AJGA Richmond Junior.

She amassed a 71.1 stroke average during junior stroke play events, a number that was lowered by a final-round 8-under-par 64 at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship. At this event alone, she worked her way into the AJGA record book twice. Her 64 placed her tied for fourth all time for low 18-hole total. Her 68-69-64–201 tournament total placed her alone in third for low 54-hole score, bested only by Virada Nirapathpongporn (1999 PING Myrtle Beach Junior) and In-Bee Park (2003 PING Junior at the Peninsula Club) at 200.

Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, Rolex Junior Players of the Year are annually honored at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet, which officially ends the AJGA’s season. Past recipients have gone on to become some of the most esteemed players on the PGA and LPGA Tours, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and many others.

None of this would be possible without the support of Rolex Watch USA, 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 maker also continues to support two of the AJGA’s most competitive major championships: the Rolex Tournament of Champions and Rolex Girls Junior Championship.

In January, Rolex was also named the inaugural Founding 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 despite their financial resources. In 2004, with the help of Rolex and various individual donors, 37 junior golfers were able to compete in events they otherwise could not afford.

Rolex is also the Official Partner to the PING Junior Solheim Cup, an international team match play event that pits the best junior girls from the United States against their European counterparts. This biennial event will take place Sept. 5-8, 2005, at The Bridgewater Club in Noblesville, Ind.