Jersey City, NJ – Nicholas Dunlap of Huntsville, Alabama and Kiara Romero of San Jose, California, win the 42nd Polo Golf Junior Classic at Liberty National. Dunlap and Romero join a long list of past Polo Golf Junior Classic Champions including Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Brian Harman, Morgan Hoffman, Matthew NeSmith, Vicki Goetze, Grace Park, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Ariya Jutanugarn, and Sierra Brooks.
The field, which included 32 boys and 32 girls, was comprised of 42 AJGA Champions, 35 Rolex AJGA All-Americans, and 37 players committed to play college golf. The Polo Golf Junior Classic also featured the 13 boys and eight girls ranked within the top-25 of the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Ben James of Milford, Connecticut, came in this week the top ranked boy at No. 4 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and Megha Ganne of Holmdel, New Jersey, the top ranked girl at No. 2 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Liberty National Golf Club hosted the AJGA for the second time in 2021. Designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp and opened on July 4, 2006, the 18-hole course is located on the Upper Bay overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline beyond. It has played host to multiple PGA TOUR events including the 2009, 2013 The Barclays, the 2017 Presidents Cup and 2019, 2021 THE NORTHERN TRUST.
Dunlap won in 20 holes over Ben James in the Polo Division Championship match. James held the match lead from hole No. 1 until No. 18 when Dunlap birdied the par 3 to move the match to all square and force a sudden death playoff. On hole 19 of the match both James and Dunlap parred the par 4 No. 1 to move to hole 20 of the match. On No. 2 Dunlap birdied the par 5 to win the match in 20 holes over James.
“I don’t think it has settled in yet. From being two-down, two to play to ending up winning just shows me to never give up. For this to be my first AJGA and invitational win out here, it’s just awesome – makes it so much better.”
The 2021 Polo Golf Junior Classic marked Dunlap’s first AJGA win and Invitational win. The No. 7 player in the Rolex AJGA rankings is a verbal commit to the University of Alabama. The 2022 graduate is headed straight to the AJGA’s Wyndham Cup to compete on the East team for a second year. He went 6-0 this week in match play and hopes to continue the hot streak through Wyndham Cup.
Romero took her Liberty Division match against Katie Li of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, to a full 18 holes to secure her first AJGA win and Invitational win. Romero, who is ranked No. 46 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, was in the driver seat for most of the match. The pair were all square through No. 3. On No. 4 Romero birdied to go 1-up on Li where she remained until No. 8 where a birdie moved her to 2-up through hole No. 9. Li fought back getting a shot back on No. 10 to move Romero’s lead to 1-Up. Li halved the match on No. 12 and until she moved to 1-Up on No. 15. Romero birdied Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to win 2-Up.
“These last few years I never won an AJGA tournament, I’ve gotten runner-up so it just feels really good to finally get the win.”
Romero went 6-0 this week in match play, moving her match play record in the past two weeks to 11-0. Romero came to Liberty National Golf Course straight from winning the California Junior Girls’ State Championship. Last week she went 5-0 to earn the State title.
About Polo Ralph Lauren
Polo Ralph Lauren, a premium lifestyle brand, has been a partner for more than three decades. Since 1995, Polo Ralph Lauren has supported junior golfers who become the next generation of college graduates and business leaders. Every week through AJGA social and digital content, Polo Ralph Lauren celebrates the top performances of AJGA members worldwide, through Polo Ralph Lauren #InspiredPerformances. Polo Ralph Lauren has hosted the Polo Golf Junior Classic, an Invitational dating back to 1978 and one of the longest-running events in AJGA history.