Players to watch in 2009
Here are six players who have a couple of years left in their junior careers and should continue to work their way up the rankings if they keep collecting titles at their current pace:
Jim Liu, Smithtown, N.Y.: Liu, 13, has dominated the IJGT. He kicked off '09 with a 13-shot victory over future Georgia Tech player Richard Werenski at the IJGT’s event at Harbour Town Jan. 1-4. Liu won five IJGT events this season and finished outside the top three just once. He is No. 97 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings and No. 1 in the Class of 2013; he’s the only player in his class ranked in the top 300 in Golfweek’s rankings.
Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind.: Rodgers won five FCWT events this season, and finished in the top three in seven of eight starts. He is No. 32 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings and No. 6 in the Class of 2011. He played two AJGA events last year, highlighted by a final-round 66 to finish second at the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior. Rodgers is No. 1 in the FCWT’s All-American Points List.
Curtis Thompson, Coral Springs, Fla.: Thompson, No. 56 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings, is the brother of Alexis, who recently tied for low amateur honors at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and Nicholas, who plays on the PGA Tour. Curtis Thompson, No. 11 in the Class of 2011, has earned recognition in his own right. He won this year’s Verizon Junior Heritage and recently finished tied for fourth in the Azalea Invitational, one of the country’s premiere amateur events.
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Cindy Feng, Orlando, Fla.: The Class of 2013 has received a lot of attention, with five players in the top 60 of the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings. Well, Feng may make them old news. The 13-year-old is already No. 55 in the country and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014 (that’s seventh grade!). She won six of seven AJGA starts last year, mostly on the Junior All-Star circuit for players 12-15. But she proved she can play with the big girls at the Annika Invitational, where she held the 36-hole lead before finishing T-4.
Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai, Bangkok, Thailand: Kongkiatkrai’s victory at the FCWT’s Golf Club of Bridgewater Open April 4-5 was her fourth in a row on the circuit. In that stretch, she has a 70.6 scoring average and an average margin of victory of 3.75 strokes. Kongkiatkrai, who attends the IMG/David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla., also finished tied for 16th at the Kathy Whitworth. She is No. 7 in the Class of 2011 and No. 45 overall.
Paige Spiranac, Monument, Colo.: Spiranac is No. 111 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings and 19th in the Class of 2011, but has shown a penchant for winning often and winning big on the FCWT. She’s won five of six starts on the FCWT this season, including a 22-shot win at the Grayhawk Raptor Challenge where she shot 5-under 139.