JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. – Four-time Rolex Junior All-American Erica Shepherd of Greenwood, Indiana, leads the 28th annual Rolex Girls Junior Championship at Briar’s Creek Golf Club by three strokes after an opening round of 7-under-par 65. The recently-graduated high school senior played a bogey-free round with seven birdies and a front nine 5-under-par 31.
The Rolex Girls Junior Championship annually fields one of the top championships in junior golf with some of the world’s best female golfers testing an elite list of challenging course venues around the country. The event is one of five girls-only AJGA invitation-only events and features an elite group of past champions, many of whom have gone on to successful LPGA careers including: Kellee Booth, Leigh Anne Hardin, Aree Song Wongluekiet, Naree Song Wongluekiet, Brittany Lang, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer, Julieta Granada, Morgan Pressel, Esther Choe, Jane Rah, Victoria Tanco, Kimberly Kim, Yueer Cindy Feng and Ariya Jutanugarn.
The 2019 field features 10 players in the top 25 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, 17 current Rolex Junior All-Americans, and 46 AJGA champions including 2017 Rolex Girls Junior Championship victor Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tennessee.
The Golf Club at Briar’s Creek, located on 800 acres of Johns Island near Charleston, is a first-time host of the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and was designed by designed by famed golf course architect Rees Jones who built seven U.S. Open sites, nine PGA Championship courses, two Walker Cup venues and six Ryder Cup venues.
Shepherd, who will continue her college golf career at Duke University in the fall, has amassed a decorated junior golf career. The 18-year-old won two AJGA career events, the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four Ball, 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, played on two Wyndham Cup East teams and helped the United States win the 2017 PING Junior Solheim Cup.
“It felt really good. I was coming off a pretty bad finish at the Thunderbird International Junior [in May], so I had a lot of motivation to play well this week and I think it showed,” said Shepherd, making her fourth appearance at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship. “My main goal this summer is to be ready to play at Duke this fall.”
Locked in second in fellow Duke commit Sophia Bae of Norwood, New Jersey, at 4-under-par 68. The 15-year-old rising high school junior is competing in her second Rolex Girls Junior Championship and is seeking her first AJGA win. As No. 52 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, Bae finished T5 last week at the Memorial Junior hosted by Sung Hyun Park.
Bae shares second with Lei (Angelina) Ye of Bradenton, Florida and Amari Avery of Riverside, California at 4-under-par 68. The Stanford University verbal commit, Ye, is a three-time Rolex Junio All-American. She already has one invitational title under her belt. Ye took home the 2018 ANNIKA Invitational USA presented by Rolex.
Amari Avery currently No. 49 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American. Avery is in search of her first AJGA win in 2019 at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship. Her best previous finish in this event came in 2018 when she finished T15.
In third in a six-way tie at 3-under-par 69: Catherine Park of Irvine, California; Jinyu Wu of (China) Bradenton, Florida; Anne Yu of (China) Champions Gate, Florida; Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California; Phoebe Brinker of Wilmington, Delaware; Charissa Shang of Calabasas, California.
An unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 500 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, Rolex is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.
About the American Junior Golf Association
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 7,200 members from 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.
TaylorMade and adidas are the AJGA’s National Sponsors, supporting the AJGA for more than 25 years. TaylorMade has served as the Official Ball of the AJGA since 2016. adidas has been the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA since 2017. Rolex, in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.
Emma Varela, AJGA Communications
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Roseanna Smith, AJGA Communications
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