PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Alison Lee was seconds into her Rolex Player of the Year acceptance speech when these words marked the end of an era in junior golf.
“I’m a college girl now,” said Lee, Golfweek’s top-ranked college player after one semester and two individual titles at UCLA.
Lee made the cross-country trip to accept her award at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet on Nov. 24 at PGA National. In a sparkling black dress, hair in soft curls, Lee made her way through a long list of thank yous. It’s understandable for a player who has made 51 AJGA starts in the past seven years. After winning her first AJGA invitational, the Annika, in 2012, Lee stated this honor as her next goal. It took a year, but Lee achieved it.
It’s a fitting way for Lee to end a career that is practically unrivaled in length and success. Lee was a six-time Rolex First-Team All American, a number that only Vicki Goetze-Ackerman exceeded (eight times). Lee won each of the three AJGA events she played in 2013, and has won five of the past seven invitationals in which she has played (starting with the 2012 Annika). As New Zealand teen Lydia Ko turned professional last month, Lee took over as the top-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, too.
In a video tribute to Lee’s career, mother Sung-Kim named an early hobby of her daughter’s as trophy collecting. With Lee’s transition to college, that hobby has simply transitioned to a new level.
The video ended with Lee’s parents forming a giant heart with their arms in honor of their daughter. Lee rolled her eyes in mock embarrassment at the podium, but where the Lees are concerned, an entire junior golf community felt the love.
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Scottie Scheffler’s junior golf story is one of extreme growth. In the past two years, Scheffler, the AJGA’s top boy, has gained roughly a foot in height. He’s learned to control his temper, and also how to win.
Scheffler, a 17-year-old from Dallas, is the top-ranked boy in Golfweek’s junior rankings. He was runner-up at the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods and the Thunderbird International Junior, both AJGA invitationals, in the spring before breaking through at the U.S. Junior Amateur in July.
Scheffler persevered in his golf game even as a growth spurt occurred at a rapid rate.
“It was challenging with the short game because I was looking at the ball from a different level,” Scheffler said.
As Scheffler grew up, he also came out of his shell. During his acceptance speech, Scheffler recalled days spent on the golf course and also playing ping pong with fellow competitors. He encouraged other shy players in the room to come out of their shells, too. Scheffler’s height may be most noticeable, but his personal growth is perhaps the biggest change.