ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The action will remain in Florida and still occurs in the winter, but the ANNIKA Invitational USA has changed some things up in 2018.
The event has moved from Reunion Resort’s Watson Course in Kissimmee, Fla., a touch north to the World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course in St. Augustine, Fla. The tournament will run from Jan. 13-15 rather than a mid-February date.
But the most important point remains similar: The quality of the field.
This AJGA invitational annually boasts one of the year’s top junior fields, with last year’s event hosting six of the top 15 in the Golfweek/Sagarin junior girls rankings going in.
This year’s crop? Actually even better.
Five of the top six players in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings are present in St. Augustine, including No. 1 Lucy Li and No. 2 Rachel Heck (both Class of 2020). Seven of the top 10 are here, as are 10 of the top 15.
There are 72 players in all this week in St. Augustine in the 10th annual running of this event. This week’s winner will earn an invitation to the Symetra Tour’s Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, which will take place from March 16-18.
The ANNIKA Invitational USA was the first junior event Annika Sorenstam founded, and the 10-time LPGA major champion now hosts junior events globally with the ANNIKA Invitational Europe, the ANNIKA Invitational Latin America, the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills (China) and the ANNIKA Cup (Sweden) also in tow.
Heavy rain hit the Slammer & Squire Course on Friday, causing the day’s junior-am to be cut short. It also leaves the course wet and soft for when tournament play commences Saturday.
The following three days are not projected to bring any more rain, but temperatures are set to hover in the 40s and 50s. So the conditions may present a challenge.
The invitational is the first girls-only event of the 2018 AJGA season. With this field and a colder-than-usual Florida forecast, there’s plenty of intrigue heading into this weekend.
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Where: World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course, St. Augustine, Fla
When: Jan. 13-15
Who: 72 junior girls golfers, including five of the top six in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings