U.S. Girls' Junior: Five players to watch
The U.S. Girls’ Junior begins today at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind., a familiar site for a handful of players in the field. Sycamore Hills hosted the Junior PGA Championship for the past three years.
Here are a few names to keep an eye out for this week (pairings and tee times can be found here):
Minjee Lee: The Australian is not only seeking to defend her title in this event, but she is the highest ranked player in this field according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (Lee is No. 4). Minjee Lee polished off Alison Lee in last year’s final, and her path also included victories over Casey Danielson and Ariya Jutanugarn.
Casie Cathrea: Already this summer, Cathrea has won the Women’s Porter Cup and was the low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open. Cathrea is one of the most talented junior girls in the country when it comes to match play, likely because of her solid ballstriking and fearless approach. She will play for the U.S. at the Junior Solheim Cup later this summer.
Gabriela Then: A player who frequently contends, but has yet to have a junior-career-making victory. Then, who will play for USC in the fall, is playing in her fourth U.S. Girls’ Junior, and her last notable victory was the Scott Robertson Memorial in May. Then won the Rolex Tournament of Champions in 2011.
Lilia Vu: Among the handful of players not quite a week removed from playing in the AJGA’s Wyndham Cup at The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, Vu claimed the most lopsided victory in singles by defeating Shawn Rennergarbe, 6 and 5. Vu was one of only five West team players to win a match for that side.
Nicole Morales: A good bet for a title this week. Morales, an Alabama commit, has displayed a knack for match play. After winning the AJGA’s Polo Golf Junior Classic, a match-play event, in 2011, she won another invitational, the Thunderbird International Junior, earlier this year. Another good sign? In one of the best matches at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior, Morales took World No. 1 amateur Lydia Ko to the 17th hole in the third round of match play. Morales fought all the way to the end, making birdie at two of the final four holes, and came off the course breathless with excitement, even though she lost. This player is spunky.