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, Scott Verplank, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Jutanugarn, 16, is the fifth girl to earn Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. She has been No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings since July 2, 2011, and won three junior tournaments in 2012. In all, Jutanugarn has seven national junior golf victories since she began competing in the United States in 2009.
Her accomplishments during the past season will be heralded Nov. 18 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The awards ceremony, dubbed The Greatest Night in Junior Golf, will also trumpet the achievements of the rest of golfs next generation by means of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams, HP Scholastic Junior All-America Teams and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award.
Jutanugarn, 16, has once again set herself on the junior golf pedestal in 2012. Since her debut on the American junior golf circuit in 2009, she has seven victories, five runner-up finishes and has finished outside the top 10 just three times. After being named Rolex Junior Player of the Year in 2011, she successfully defended two major junior titles in 2012 and earned junior golfs highest honor for the second consecutive year.
Jutanugarn opened the season with a third-place showing at the Scott Robertson Memorial. She then notched her first win of the season at the Thunderbird International Junior, where she prevailed in a sudden-death playoff against Laura Sojo after the duo finished at 5-under-par.
She followed the win with a defense of her title at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, where she set the AJGA girls 72-hole scoring record at 18-under-par 270, breaking the record she established in 2011.
A month later, she posted a T3 showing at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship, where she fell short in the semifinals against Minjee Lee, who went on to win the event. To close the season, she embodied her consistent performance at the Junior PGA Championship, becoming the first girls champion to notch back-to-back titles since AJGA alumna Inbee Park.
Ariya Jutanugarn 2012 season results
|T34||*Polo Golf Junior Classic||78-75153|
|3rd||Scott Robertson Memorial||72-72-69213|
|1st||*Thunderbird International Junior||72-72-67211|
|1st||*Rolex Girls Junior Championship||70-65-68-67270|
|12th||*Rolex Tournament of Champions||72-68-72-76288|
|T3||U.S. Girls' Junior Championship||71-71142|
|1st||Junior PGA Championship||66-70-71-6727|
Other tournaments (not factored into Rolex Junior Player of the Year considerations)
|2nd||Harder Hall Invitational||72-72-67-73284|
|T12||^LPGA Thailand Ladies Open||73-69-65207|
|T22||^Kraft Nabisco Championship||73-69-65207|
|1st||Womens Western Amateur||71-68139|
|T3||U.S. Women's Amateur||71-68139|
|MC||^CN Canadian Womens Open||77-76153|
|T9||^Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia ||69-67-65-73274|
^ Denotes professional event
NeSmith named Rolex Junior Player of the Year