Junior Fantasy picks: U.S. Junior/Girls’ Jr.
Finally, the national championship has arrived. Our Golfweek staffers make their selections for the biggest events of the year, the U.S. Junior Amateur in Ada, Mich., and the U.S. Girls’ Junior in Pinehurst, N.C:
JULIE WILLIAMS (205 points)
- Bobby Wyatt. He recently overtook defending champion Jordan Spieth in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, and his name just keeps showing up near the top of amateur events. Winning a U.S. Junior Amateur title wouldn’t be a bad way to cap off Wyatt’s junior career before he heads to Alabama in the fall.
- Danielle Kang. Kang’s easy-going demeanor on the course impressed me in her college debut this spring, and making the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open just backed it up. She’ll be a tough player to knock off.
RYAN LAVNER (175 points)
- Jordan Spieth. Hard to bet against Spieth. Seldom has the field been this deep, but seldom has a junior been so polished at such a young age. Sleeper pick: Gavin Hall. The young lefthander, who won’t turn 16 until September, seems unflappable in adverse conditions, and has top-7 finishes in two AJGA invitational starts this season.
- Danielle Kang. Kang enters the girls’ national championship with an invaluabe experience edge over her competitors, having played the spring semester at Pepperdine. (She won her first tournament entered, too). Medalist at the ’09 Women’s Amateur, Kang could very well sweep both the stroke play and match play portions of this championship. And even though she’s a supreme talent, Victoria Tanco has just been too inconsistent recently. (See: 83-66 at the AJGA Rolex ToC.)
DAN MIROCHA (95 points)
- Anthony Paolucci. No one hotter in the junior game, plus has U.S. Junior finals experience from 2008.
- Yueer Cindy Feng. Tough record in USGA events, but has won two of three AJGA invitationals this year.
D.J. PIEHOWSKI (0 points)
- Jordan Spieth. Well, it’s certainly not an imaginative pick, but as the latest entry into the Junior Fantasy world, it’s all about practicality at the U.S. Junior. It only makes sense to go with the biggest name on the biggest stage to rack up some points. Spieth may have dropped out of the top spot in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, but make no mistake, the defending champion is still the player to beat this week at Egypt Valley.
- Kristen Park. Not only is Kristen Park riding high after her win at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, but she is a former U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, winning at Tacoma C&GC in 2007. Park has made six starts on the AJGA circuit this year, finishing inside the top 10 in each. She also played well at last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, tying for 14th in stroke play before running into eventual runner-up Kimberly Kim in match play. The 18-year-old is playing in her final U.S. Girls’ Junior, and I can think of no better way to cap off a stellar junior career than a win at the Country Club of North Carolina.
Scoring: Win (50 points), runner-up (30 points), top-5 (20 points), top-10 (10 points), top-20 (5 points). Zero points for anything outside the top 20. Bonus points when specified. (Only rule: You can’t pick the same player two consecutive weeks.)