Lee won't defend Annika title, but plans for busy summer

Alison Lee poses with the trophy after winning the 2012 Annika Invitational at Reunion Resort with a score of 213.

There is a name conspicuously missing about halfway down the field list for this weekend’s Annika Invitational. Alison Lee won’t travel cross country to defend, but it’s not because Lee’s junior career is over. This is only the beginning of a long season that will end with Lee’s name finding a place on the UCLA roster by fall.

Lee, a 17-year-old from Valencia, Calif., maintained her usually intense competition schedule in 2012, and it resulted in two AJGA invitational titles, a runner-up finish at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, two LPGA major starts and a spot on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team for a second time.

She’s earned a little break.

“I’m really taking a lot of time off golf right now,” Lee said. The last semester of her senior year at Valencia High School began on Jan. 14, and Lee is relishing the chance to “just enjoy everything.”

Included in that everything is the top spot in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings. When two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year Ariya Jutanugarn turned professional at the end of Ladies European Tour Q-School in December, Lee moved to the top.

“When I saw that, I screen-shotted it on my phone that I was No. 1,” Lee said. “Being No. 1 has really been my goal since I started junior golf.”

For Lee, one of the “old ones,” that was six years ago, when at age 12 she became eligible to play in AJGA events. Since then, Lee has won six AJGA titles.

Expect Lee’s 2013 schedule to still include AJGA invitationals, especially the Rolex Tournament of Champions. She will start her season at the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic in May.

Lee also plans to play a Monday qualifier for the LPGA’s Kia Classic. She won a junior qualifier for the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2012, and hopes to have that opportunity again. She’ll also try to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. She has been in that field three times already and made the cut twice.

“I’m still going to have a booked summer,” Lee explained.

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