Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, joined Jordan Spieth as the only two-time PING Invitational champions after a come-from-behind victory. Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Virginia, went wire-to-wire to earn his second AJGA Invitational title.
The 14th PING Invitational showcased the best of the next generation of future college and professional stars. The tournament was hosted at Karsten Creek, home to the Oklahoma State University Men's and Women's Golf teams.
There were 22 Rolex Junior All-Americans and 52 AJGA champions in the field. In addition, there were 44 college commits and five players hailing from four international countries.
Zhang entered the day four strokes off the lead at 1-over-par 145. She wasted little time vaulting up the leaderboard however, as the Stanford University commit posted three birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 3-under-par 33. The 2019 Rolex Junior Player of the Year added two more birdies on the back nine to post a flawless bogey-free round of 5-under-par 67. Zhang's round was the lowest of the tournament in the Girls Division. She finished the tournament at 4-under-par 212.
At Karsten Creek, obviously you have to have a really patient game. You have to be prepared on every single hole, and every single shot. My mindset going into each round and each shot was really good, and it really helped me stay steady and patient on the course.
Zhang, who also won the tournament in 2018, is the first two-time PING Invitational champion in Girls Division history. This victory marks the seventh AJGA Invitational win of her career.
The accomplished golfer is having quite the year, with wins at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the U.S. Women's Amateur. She also finished T11 at the ANA Inspiration. Zhang is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American who was recently awarded the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the world’s top-ranked female amateur.
It's such a great honor. I've heard that Jordan Spieth was the only other two-time champion of this event, and to be the first female player to do that is such an honor. I'm just so excited to see where my game will take me.
Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang of (China) Plano, Texas, finished second at 3-under-par 213. Zhang carded a bogey-free front nine that included three birdies. She finished the final round at 1-under-par 71. The SMU commit is No. 11 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Zhang is a 2019 Rolex Junior All-American and three-time AJGA champion, which includes a victory this year at the Under Armour® / Jordan Spieth Championship.
Lynn Lim of Gallatin, Tennessee, and Catherine Rao of Camarillo, California, finished T3 at even-par 216. Lim is a Vanderbilt University commit who owns two AJGA victories, including an Invitational title at the 2019 AJGA Junior All-Star Invitational at Reynolds Lake Oconee. Rao is No. 23 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and owns three top-10 finishes in 2020.
Kyung Eun Lee of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Grace Summerhays of Scottsdale, Arizona, finished T5 at 3-over-par 219. Lee finished second at the Circle K Junior Championship hosted by Otter Creek in June and is No. T58 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Summerhays finished T6 at the AJGA Girls Invitational at Stanford and is No. 33 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. This is the best finish for both players in an AJGA Invitational.
Chinn entered the day with a four-stroke lead in the Boys Division at 4-under-par 140. That cushion quickly slipped away however, as Chinn struggled on the front nine, posting a double and two bogeys to make the turn at 3-over-par 39. After making another bogey on the par-3 No. 11, Chinn flipped the switch.
The front nine was definitely brutal. I wasn't really hitting the shots I wanted to, but on the back nine I just kept my focus on every shot.
The Duke University commit went on a tear, birdieing six of his last seven holes to post a 1-under-par 71 on the day to win his second AJGA Invitational by three strokes at 5-under-par 211. He was the only player in the field to finish under par in each round.
I had everything going today, actually all week. To win out here with such an amazing field, that's just what you have to do. Over the final six or seven holes every single shot was perfect for me.
Chinn won the 2019 Rolex Tournament of Champions and finished T2 at The Junior PLAYERS Championship over Labor Day weekend. The Rolex Junior All-American is No. 2 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Gordon Sargent of Birmingham, Alabama, finished second at 2-under-par 214. He registered just one bogey in the final round as he shot a 2-under-par 70. Sargent is a two-time AJGA champion and a two-time Rolex Junior All-American. The Vanderbilt University commit finished T6 at the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods in February.
David Ford of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, and Caleb Surratt of Indian Trail, North Carolina, finished T3 at 3-over-par 219. Ford, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill commit, owns two victories this year at the AJGA Invitational at Sedgefield and The Junior PLAYERS Championship. Surratt fired the lowest round of the tournament to break into the top five. He carded eight birdies in the final round on his way to posting a 7-under-par 65. Surratt is committed to North Carolina State University and is No. 31 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Wells Williams of West Point, Mississippi, finished fifth at 4-over-par 220. The 2019 Rolex Junior All-American owns two AJGA victories.
The PING Invitational History
The inaugural PING Invitational took place in 2006. The first edition of the tournament was won by 5-time Rolex Junior All-American Andrew Yun and four-time Rolex Junior All-American Esther Choe. In addition to her victory at The PING Invitational, Choe also won the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the Polo Golf Junior Classic that year.
Jordan Spieth is the only two-time champion in tournament history (2008 and 2010). Canon Claycomb broke Spieth's 54-hole scoring record in 2017 when he eagled the final hole of the tournament to reach 9-under-par 207.
Past champions are listed below:
2018 - Michael Thorbjornsen and Rose Zhang
2017 - Canon Claycomb and Lucy Li
2016 - Noah Norton and Paphangkorn Tavatanakit
2015 - Spencer Soosman and Nelly Korda
2014 - Donnie Trosper and Kaitlyn Papp
2013 - Brad Dalke and Megan Khang
2012 - Gavin Hall and Alison Lee
2011 - A.J. McInerney and Jaye Marie Green
2010 - Jordan Spieth and Kristen Park
2009 - Emiliano Grillo and Rachel Morris
2008 - Jordan Spieth and Victoria Tanco
2007 - Gregor Main and Vicky Hurst
2006 - Andrew Yun and Esther Choe
PING, a golf club manufacturer with the goal to help golfers play their best, has been an AJGA supporter since 1990 and began supporting the PING Phoenix Junior in 1991. The PING Invitational, one of the AJGA's top Invitationals held over Columbus Day weekend, began in 2006 at Karsten Creek. The PING Junior Solheim Cup, the all-girls match play biennial event, has received worldwide recognition and many participants are able to say they played for their country as a junior and professional.
PING, an Official Partner since 2002, sponsors PING College Golf Signing Day and in 2009, became "The Official Bag of the AJGA." In 2010, PING debuted golf bags for all AJGA champions.
About Karsten Creek Golf Club
Former Oklahoma State University head golf coach and current Athletic Director Mike Holder first envisioned Karsten Creek Golf Club in the 1970's. His goal was to create a sanctuary for college golf. With the help of renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio, that dream took shape over the next two decades.
On May 9th, 1994, Karsten Creek Golf Club officially opened, and was named "Best New Course" in the country by Golf Digest.
The course was named in honor of the late Karsten Solheim, founder of Karsten Manufacturing (PING). Lake Louise, featured on the finishing holes, was named in honor of Karsten's wife.
Karsten Creek Golf Club is home to the Oklahoma State Men's and Women's golf programs.