HP Boys, Annika Invitational previews
HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods
When: Feb 18-21, 2011
Where: The Club at Carlton Woods; The Woodlands, Texas
Who: Five of the top 20 players in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings (No. 2 Jordan Spieth, No. 7 Shun Yat Hak, No. 9 Jim Liu, No. 14 Wyndham Clark and No. 20 Tanner Kesterson).
The scoop: The first invitational of the year, the HP Boys Championship, brings a strong field to The Club at Carlton Woods. Short hitters beware on this lengthy Tom Fazio layout, which is projected to play at 7,358 yards. All four par 5s are projected to play over 580 yards, including the 623-yard fourth hole.
Texan Jordan Spieth is the obvious front-runner this week in The Woodlands. Spieth, fresh off his playoff loss at the elite Jones Cup, was runner-up at Carlton Woods last year, finishing two shots behind Bobby Wyatt. The 2009 U.S. Junior champion and Texas signee also had a record-breaking win at the Ping Invite at Karsten Creek in October, where he won by nine shots.
Paired with Spieth in Round 1 is 2010 U.S. Junior champ Jim Liu, who is still searching for his first AJGA Invitational win. Liu finished T-14 at the HP last year.
Liu and Spieth will be joined in the 8:45 pairing by Cody Proveaux, who won last year’s Polo Invitational.
Another player who could make a run at his first invitational crown is seventh-ranked Shun Yat Hak. Hak finished outside the top 10 in just one invite last year (a T-14 showing at the Thunderbird International). After a T-8 finish at the HP to start his 2010 season, Hak finished T-5 at the FootJoy Invite, T-4 at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, T-5 at the Junior Players and he finished things off with a seventh at the Ping.
On our radar (outside Golfweek’s top 20): Three-time AJGA winner Beau Hossler, No. 29 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, may be poised for a breakthrough win after a third-place showing at the Ping. Hossler, a first-team Rolex All American in 2010, qualified for the 2009 U.S. Amateur at 14 years old.
Billy Kennerly, No. 28, is also worth keeping an eye on. Kennerly, who made a run at last year’s Junior Players Championship, finished T-14 at Carlton Woods last year and closed the season with a T-13 at the Ping.
– D.J. Piehowski
• • •
When: Feb. 19-21
Where: Reunion (Fla.) Resort
Who: Five of the top 10 players in the Golfweek’s Junior Rankings (No. 3 Yueer Cindy Feng, No. 4 Victoria Tanco, No. 6 Kyung Kim, No. 7 Erynne Lee, No. 8 Lindsey Weaver, No. 9 Mariah Stackhouse)
The scoop: When an AJGA Invitational title is on the line, Victoria Tanco is never a bad player to keep on the radar. After scoring her fourth such victory at last year’s Annika, Tanco had a relatively quiet summer, qualifying for but failing to make waves at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Women’s Open and four other AJGA invitationals. If Tanco, who also lost the top spot in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings to Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, wants to stage a comeback, Reunion would be the place.
Also in the redemption category is Yueer Cindy Feng, who was forced to sit out of last year’s Annika because of illness but went on to win the Thunderbird and Rolex Girls Junior later in the summer. Her invitational total also sits at four, and at the relatively tender age of 15, she has plenty of time to make it grow.
Other notables in the field include Sally Amateur winner – and Florida commit – Jaye Marie Green, reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Doris Chen, U.S. Women’s Amateur co-medalist Erynne Lee and 2009 Annika champion Simin Feng.
On our radar (outside Golfweek’s top 20): For all you junior golf fans who don’t live in the Northwest, allow me to introduce Monica Vaughn, the 2010 Pacific Northwest Golf Association’s Junior Girls Player of the Year. It’s a long title, but an impressive one for the 16-year-old, who won the Oregon Junior Girls’, Women’s Amateur and Women’s Public Links and also the PNGA Junior Girls’ in 2010. The Annika will be Vaughn’s first AJGA invitational, but expect her to take to AJGA events like a fish to water. This is a name to keep track of all season.
– Julie Williams