For many AJGA members, simply being able to travel to another country is an exciting opportunity. Add in the chance to play against other international players and see your favorite pros tee off in a Major championship and it becomes the chance of a lifetime. For Joshua Martin of Pinehurst, N.C., and Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif., that chance has become a reality.
Martin and Lee have headed across the pond to represent the United States at the Junior Open Championship at Fairhaven Golf Club in Lancashire, England. The Championship takes place July 16-18, with the two competing against 118 other players from 70 foreign countries.
Founded in 1994, the Junior Open came under The R&A administrative umbrella in 2000. Staged every two years, the event is closely linked to The Open Championship and played on a nearby course. All golfing nations affiliated to The R&A are invited to enter their best boy and girl golfers, 16 and under. The AJGA selects the U.S. representatives from the highest-ranked boy and girl in the Polo Golf Rankings that fit the age group. Martin and Lee will compete in the 54-hole stroke play tournament and will then attend The Open Championship on July 19 and 20.
Martin, 15, is No. 27 in the Polo Golf Rankings with four top-five finishes in 2012 so far, including at the Exide Technologies Junior Open presented by Mizuno and the Golf Pride Junior Classic. For both juniors, this will be their first trip to Europe and are excited as they look to what the week has in store.
I am excited about going to the British Open, Martin said. It will be interesting to see the shots they take and I will probably learn a lot.
Lee, 13, is currently No. 5 in the Polo Golf Rankings after advancing to the semifinals at the 2011 Polo Golf Junior Classic to go along with a third-place finish at the 2012 ANNIKA Invitational.
I am most looking forward to meeting new people from outside the country and playing a links course because I have never played one before, Lee said.
Additionally, both feel honored to have been chosen as the representatives of the United States.
I feel special to have been selected to represent my country, Martin said. It is a lot of weight on my shoulders but I will try to represent us well.
AJGA Board member Pat Saunders will be accompanying Martin and Lee to England. While this is Saunders first time at the Junior Open Championship, she has traveled with AJGA members in previous years, including trips to the 2003 PING Junior Solheim Cup in Sweden, the 2007 and 2008 Evian Masters Junior Cup in France, and the 2011 PING Junior Solheim Cup in Ireland.
For Saunders, these trips have become meaningful as she has met a variety of people from around the world and seen legendary golf courses that some of us only get to read about. The events have been particularly special as she has been able to see the juniors gain new and unique experiences.
It is just a great thrill to enjoy it through their eyes. It is nice to see their pride in their country and how happy they are to represent the U.S. Saunders said. The boys and girls are so talented and hardworking. I really applaud the kids discipline.