“It’s really amazing what these athletes can do; they’re so talented,” said Jaye Marie Green during a bit of small talk about the Olympic Qualifying for gymnastics.
But Green is an impressive athletic talent in her own right. Not only did the 18-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla. win the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions – defeating Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J. in a sudden-death playoff after both girls fired 3-under 277 at the Capital City Club in Alpharetta, Ga. – but she will be competing the U.S. Women’s Open this weekend.
“It felt so good to win the TOC, it being one of my last AJGA events,” said Green. “Winning TOC and knowing that I’m playing well definitely helps my confidence going into the Open, even though the field at the Open is a lot different – the best players in the world.”
Green, ranked No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings also played in the 2010 Open at Oakmont CC, where she missed the cut.
Green’s come a long way from missing cuts – she recently made the cut in two professional events: the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship where she tied for 56th and the Symetra Tour’s Sara Bay Classic, where she finished tied for 17th.
For now, Green is taking things one step at a time. After initially committing to Florida, she decommited in order to go through LPGA Q-School and obtain her tour card. With this decision, the Florida women’s golf team loses the No. 2 ranked junior player in addition to the loss of head coach Jan Dowling, who stepped down in May.
Green’s goal for the Women’s Open this weekend?
“For every tournament, I’d love to win, but this weekend I just want to be happy with how I play and see where I stand with the pros.”
JUNIOR CONTENDERS: In addition to 18-year-old Green, a host of other juniors will be competing in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis, the youngest being 13-year-old Angel Yin of Arcadia, Calif.
16-year-old Shannon Aubert, who was born in France and lives in Orlando, Fla., will be playing in her first Open. Recently, Aubert, ranked No. 8 by Golfweek, won the Kathy Whitworth Invitational and was runner-up at the ANNIKA Invitational. She won the Class 1A individual state championship and was named the Girls Golfer of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. She qualified for the Open out of Plantation Bay G&CC with a 145 total.
Moriya Jutanugarn, 17, of Bangkok, Thailand was fully exempt into the 2012 Open due to her low-amateur finish in the 2011 Women’s Open at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Recently, Jutanugarn, ranked No. 3 by Golfweek, was runner-up at the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship and winner of the South Atlantic Amateur (The Sally), which earned her a spot in the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she missed the cut. Her younger sister, Ariya (ranked No. 1 by Golfweek) will by caddying for her this week.
14-year old Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass. qualified for the Open out of Longmeadow (Mass.) CC with a 141. Khang, playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, recently won the Connecticut Women’s Open and the FCWT – Red Tail. Lydia Ko, 15, of Auckland, New Zealand is also playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open. Ranked No. 1 women’s amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Ko became the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event, the Bing Lee/Samsung Women’s NSW Open in January.
Annie Park, 17, of Levittown, N.Y. tied for medalist honors at qualifying out of Trump National GC in Colts Neck, N.J. with a 143. A rising senior at MacArthur High School, Park recently became the first girl to win the Nassau High School boys golf tournament.
Angel Yin of Arcadia, Calif., the youngest competitor at 13 years old, qualified for the Open out of Industry Hills GC by shooting a 145. Yin, who’s playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, recently was a joint winner of the Arizona Silver Belles. She made it to the round of 16 at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
Other junior girls competing in the Women’s Open include 17-year-old Elisabeth Bernabe of Anaheim Hills, Calif.; Jisool Keel, 16, of Coquitlam, B.C.; Canada, 18-year-old Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz.; 2012 ANNIKA Invitational winner Alison Lee, 17, of Valencia, Calif., 18-year-old Maria Gabriela Lopez of Mexico City, Mexico; Briana Mao, 18, of Folsom Calif.; 18-year-old Samantha Marks of Maitland, Fla.; Rinko Mitsunaga, 15, of Roswell, Ga.; 14-year-old Hannah O’Sullivan of Cupertino, Calif.; Jisoo Park, 17, of Beaumont, Calif.; 15-year old Gigi Stoll of Beaverton, Ore.; and Emma Talley, 18, of Princeton, Ky.
Professionals Victoria Tanco, 18, of Bradenton, Fla. and Lexi Thompson, 17, of Coral Springs, Fla., will also be competing.
WINNERS: AJGA: Taylor Tomlinson of Gainesville, Fla. shot 8-over 224 (72-80-72) to win the Hank Haney IJGA Junior Open at Bear Creek GC in Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Jennifer Peng of San Diego, Calif. shot 3-over 213 (73-76-64) to win the Killington Junior Golf Championship at Green Mountain National GC in Killington, Vt.; Lauren Waller of Canonsburg, Pa. shot 1-over 217 (74-72-71) to win the Junior All-Star at Penn State GC (Blue) in State College, Pa.; Patricia Wong of Walnut, Calif. shot 5-over 221 (72-74-75) to win the Junior All-Star at Gainey Ranch GC (Lakes & Arroyo) in Scottsdale, Ariz. . . . TEXAS JUNIOR TOUR: Jeanie Kim shot 4-over 148 (77-71) to win the Meadowbrook Farms GC Shark Shootout in Katy; Chaithra Katamneni shot 1-under 143 (75-68) to win the Oakmont CC Junior Championship in Corinth; Sandra Livas shot 6-over 150 (73-77) to win the UT Junior Championship at University of Texas GC in Austin.
A LOOK AHEAD: AJGA – July 2-5: Golf Pride Junior Classic at Mid Pines Inn & GC in Southern Pines, N.C.; KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior Open at Bella Vista Village (Highlands) in Bella Vista, Ark.; Coca Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, Mich.; Ravenwood Junior Championship at Ravenwood GC in Victor, N.Y.; AJGA Junior at The Legends GC in Temecula, Calif. . . . TEXAS JUNIOR TOUR – July 2-3: TPC Four Seasons Invitational at TPC Las Colinas in Irving; Silverhorn GC Junior Championship in San Antonio. . . . PGA Junior Series plays at The Quarry in San Antonio, Texas.