Thunderbird to host top players from the world
The AJGA’s Thunderbird International Junior is set to take place May 25-27 at Grayhawk Golf Club’s Raptor course in Scottsdale, Ariz.
For the 13th consecutive year, the Thunderbird will boast a good field of homegrown American players along with an international mix.
In the boys and girls divisions, 13 countries – Australia, Chile, China, England, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, Sweden and the United States – will be represented. India, South Korea, Thailand, and Zimbabwe, will also be recognized, but those players live in the States.
New champions will be crowned this year as Max Orrin of England and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand will not be back to defend their titles. Orrin is too old to participate as he turned 19 on May 13. He made history last year when he became the first international to win the boys division. Jutanugarn prevailed in a sudden-death playoff to become the fourth international girls champion. Jutanugarn turned professional in December and plays on the Ladies European Tour.
That doesn’t mean a former champion can’t regain the title this year. 2011 boys and girls champions Brad Dalke of McKinney, Texas, and Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., look to get back to the tops of their respective leaderboards. In 2011, Dalke became the AJGA’s youngest invitational winner at the age of 13 year, 9 months and 11 days. Chung dominated the field and won by six shots.
Other notables in the field:
• Scott Scheffler, No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, will make his second AJGA start of the 2013 season. In March, Scheffler committed to Texas for 2014.
• Nos. 1, 7 and 9 in the Golfweek rankings, Jim Liu, Cameron Champ and Doug Ghim, are in the field.
• 2012 U.S. Open participant Andy Zhang will compete in his first AJGA invitational. Zhang shot 79-78 at the Olympic Club while becoming the youngest player to play in an U.S. Open at the age of 14.
• Top-ranked junior Alison Lee is still taking some time to herself allowing Casey Danielson (No. 3) be the top-ranked junior at the tournament.
• 2013 Annika Invitational winner Bethany Wu will make her second AJGA start since winning her first invitational title. She finished T-13 at the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic.
• Linna Strom of Sweden could be an international player to make headlines. Strom has high hopes of coming to the U.S. to play college golf like her idol Annika Sorenstam did. Strom finished fifth at the Annika Invitational in February.