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Recognizing Excellence: Rayhan Abdul Latief makes most of first AJGA experience

His journey from Indonesia to The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by Rolex
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Rolex's support of junior golf and the AJGA spans more than three decades. Along the way, there have been moments of excellence. The AJGA, in partnership with Rolex, seeks to celebrate these moments and recognize the accomplishments of junior golfers both on and off the course.

When Rayhan Adbul Latief got the call in June from the Indonesian Golf Association to play in The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by Rolex, he could hardly fathom the opportunity he had just received.

When remembering what his initial reaction was, Latief lit up with a smile knowing he would be able to play ‘his favorite golf hole in the entire world’ on the famed par-3 with the island green— No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass on The PLAYERS Stadium Course.

The 15-year-old had only been to the United States a handful of times, but never to Florida. He had played and won in big events, but none that would compare to spending his Labor Day Weekend in Ponte Vedre Beach, Florida.

Hailing from Bakasi, Indonesia, Latief was one of 23 international players represented in the 2022 tournament field. This year, the event had an even greater international significance leading up to the Junior Presidents Cup later in September.

As the top-ranked Indonesian player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at No. 196, he has 12 wins recognized in WAGR, all in Indonesia.

I couldn’t believe I was going to be able to play in one of the best junior golf tournaments in the world. All of the best players from many countries are here so I am very proud and honored to travel here and be invited.
Rayhan Abdul Latief

The 2022 Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by Rolex field was one of the strongest in its 16-year history. It had the highest WAGR power rating, seven of the top 10 players in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, and 50 past AJGA champions in the field.

As far as preparation, Latief had just over a month and a half to prepare for the biggest event of his life. It wasn’t easy, however, he didn’t focus as much on golf as he did on the mental aspect. How can you replicate the nerves, the excitement, and the pressure?

Latief gave a simple answer without hesitation – he turned to his golf idol, Tiger Woods for inspiration.

“Ever since I was a kid, as long as I can remember I have loved Tiger Woods, I mean who doesn’t?” Latief said. “I’ve watched him hit shots and he is just different than the rest of the world. His mentality is different, he is built differently. I have learned a lot from his mental toughness.”

Latief was quick to recall Woods held the top spot in the world on 11 different occasions, saying that his skill speaks for itself.

With 54 holes of golf ahead of him, lightning cut the tournament’s practice round short and first-time players forfeited their only chance to test No. 17 prior to competition. On the morning of the first round, Latief had to remind himself not to be intimidated. More than three hours into the round, he finally reached No. 17 and he wasn’t disappointed.

The whole experience was amazing, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s unbelievable where golf can take you. I have only seen this hole on TV, and I was very nervous, but I ended the week with three pars in a row and I couldn’t be happier.
Rayhan Abdul Latief

Latief had scores of 73-74-73 for a tournament total of 4-over par 220, finishing in a tie for 35th. He had the opportunity to make friends and meet golfers from around the world, including Tim Clark, International Team Captain for the Junior Presidents Cup. In total 14 players from the Junior Presidents Cup team competed at The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by Rolex, with five players from the International Team. In a week that already included many firsts, Latief was able to participate in bonding activities with some of his future teammates.

“I love that through golf I can make new friends, see the world and help golf grow," Latief said. "Junior Presidents Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime event and I can’t wait to make memories with them, represent my country and play my best.”

Golf in Indonesia is not what it is in the U.S., but Latief is hopeful he can continue to inspire kids who want to play.  He is thankful for his family, his coaches and Indonesia for the support and is looking forward to the future.

Golf has taught me how hard life can be – but also how rewarding. I go in each day trying to be a better golfer and a better person and always do the best I can.
Rayhan Abdul Latief

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