BRASELTON, Ga. — The American Junior Golf Association has announced the 12 junior golfers that will make up the 2009 PING Junior Solheim Cup U.S. Team.
The PING Junior Solheim Cup, patterned after The Solheim Cup, features the top-12 girls from the United States against those from Europe. The 2009 event will be played at Aurora Country Club in Aurora, Ill., Aug. 17-19, the days leading up to The Solheim Cup. The Solheim Cup will be played Aug. 17-23 at nearby Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The only girls’ team event of its kind at the junior level, the PING Junior Solheim Cup is a PING tournament managed by the AJGA.
The 12 players on the U.S. team were selected based on a combination of the AJGA’s Polo Golf Rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Girls Rankings as of July 20. This year, Nancy Lopez, a 1987 LPGA Hall of Fame inductee and member of the inaugural 1990 Solheim Cup, will serve as captain.
Seven members of the PING Junior Solheim Cup U.S. Team are from the West Coast, including six from California: Ani Gulugian of Irvine, Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Alison Lee of Valencia, Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Kristen Park of Buena Park, and Jane Rah of Torrance. Arizona native Alexandra Stewart of Peoria completes the West Coast contingent.
Gulugian, 17, is currently ranked No. 9 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 8 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. The 2010 graduate has three AJGA victories, including the 2008 Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship and the 2008 Dalhousie Junior Championship. Gulugian has two top-10 finishes in the 2009 season, including a third-place finish at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and a seventh-place finish at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship.
Johnson, 17, has seven AJGA victories to her name and is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American. Currently ranked No. 23 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, Johnson has three top-10 finishes in AJGA competition in 2009.
Lee, 14, was a first-team Rolex Junior All-American in 2008 and has two AJGA victories and 12 top-10 finishes in national junior golf competition. Lee is currently ranked No. 12 in the Polo Golf Ranking and No. 5 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.
Lua, 18, currently ranked No. 14 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 6 in Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American and two-time Canon Cup West Team member. Lua has two victories and 28 top-10 finishes in national junior golf competition. This will be Lua’s second appearance at the PING Junior Solheim Cup after playing in 2007.
Park, 16, is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American and two-time Canon Cup East Team member. Park has four victories in national junior golf competition, including the 2007 U.S. Girls’ Junior and Kathy Whitworth Junior that same year. She is ranked No. 19 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. This will be Park’s second trip to the PING Junior Solheim Cup, as she played in 2007.
Rah, 18, will be making her third appearance at the PING Junior Solheim Cup. Currently No. 10 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 14 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, Rah is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American. She is a four-time member of the Canon Cup West Team and has six wins, including the 2007 Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the 2007 PING Junior at The Woodlands.
Stewart, 17, is currently ranked No. 24 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 13 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. Stewart was named an honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American in 2008 after accumulating two victories and two other top-10 finishes.
Three players from Florida will also be on the team in 2009. Jessica Korda and Kristina Wong, both of Bradenton, and Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, will all be making their first appearance at the PING Junior Solheim Cup.
Korda, 16, is currently ranked No. 7 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 15 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. A 2011 graduate, Korda was named a first-team Rolex Junior All-American in 2008 and won the McDonald's Betsy Rawls Girls Championship that same year. She currently has eight AJGA top-10 finishes.
Thompson, 14, is currently ranked No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings and the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. Thompson was named a first-team Rolex Junior All-American in 2007 and 2008, and was a member of the Canon Cup East Team in 2007 and 2008. The 2013 graduate has six victories in national junior golf competition, including the 2009 Laredo Energy Junior at Traditions.
Wong, 18, is currently ranked No. 3 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. She is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American and a three-time member of the Canon Cup East Team. Wong has 28 top-10 finishes in her junior golf career, including a win at the 2008 SAP Junior Open and a tie for third at the 2009 Thunderbird International Junior.
Rounding out the team will be Stephanie Kim of Whitestone, N.Y., and Sarah Brown of Phillipsburg, N.J.
Kim, 17, a second-team Rolex Junior All-American in 2008, has 11 top-10 finishes in national junior golf competition, including a semifinal appearance at the 2008 Polo Golf Junior Classic. She is currently ranked No. 17 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 5 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.
Brown, 17, is currently No. 8 in the Polo Golf Rankings and No. 19 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. The 2010 graduate is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American and has five AJGA victories. This year, Brown has second-place finishes at the ANNIKA Invitational and the Thunderbird International Junior.
Past PING Junior Solheim Cup U.S. Team members include Paula Creamer (eight-time LPGA Tour champion), Brittany Lincicome (champion at the 2007 Ginn OPEN and 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship) and Morgan Pressel (champion of the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship). Creamer was the first player to make the move from the PING Junior Solheim Cup to The Solheim Cup Team when she helped lead the U.S. to victory in 2005 with a 3-1-1 record.
The inaugural PING Junior Solheim Cup competition was staged at Oak Ridge Country Club in Hopkins, Minn., the days leading up to The Solheim Cup at Interlachen in Edina. The United States, anchored by Jennifer Pandolfi and Amanda Blumenherst, was victorious, 17-7, over the European squad. Both Pandolfi and Blumenherst were undefeated, winning all three matches in which they competed.
In 2003, the event moved to Bokskogen Golf Club in Bara, Sweden. For five of the team’s members – Blumenherst, Creamer, Lincicome, Pandolfi and Jane Park – the 2002 U.S. victory was still fresh in their minds. Although the U.S. Team took an early lead, the European squad responded by winning four of six four-ball matches in the afternoon of the first day, to take its first lead in PING Junior Solheim Cup history. Leading 6.5-5.5 going into the singles matches, both squads took six points, giving Europe a 12.5-11.5 victory.
The 2005 competition saw the event return to U.S. soil. Pressel led the charge of this energetic squad. Pressel, along with Megan Grehan and Sydnee Michaels, went undefeated throughout the event. The U.S. also took home 10 of the 12 individual victories on the final day to defeat the European team, 16-8.
In 2007, the competition made its way to Bastad Golf Club in Halmstad, Sweden, where the European team clinched the cup once again. Carlota Ciganda, Florentyna Parker and Nicola Rössler all had flawless records of 3-0-0 during the week to help Europe to a 14-10 victory.
The United States and Europe head into the 2009 competition tied with an overall record of 2-2-0. The team hosting the event has won the PING Junior Solheim Cup in all four instances.
The Solheim Cup, the most prestigious team event in women’s professional golf and sponsored by PING golf equipment, is named in honor of the company’s founder, Karsten Solheim, and his family. It is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best American-born players from the LPGA Tour and the best European-born players from the Ladies European Tour.
The U.S. Team leads the competition, 7-3, and has never lost The Solheim Cup on home soil. The European Team has won three of the four events held overseas and will be looking to regain the Cup in 2009.
PING designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim’s youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com.
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