Preview: Golfweek Junior Invitational
Monday, January 6, 2014
When: Nov. 2-3
Where: Shingle Creek Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.
To see the full field, click here
The scoop: The women’s division is highlighted this year by Bailey Tardy, a University of Georgia commit who won medalist honors at the U.S. Girls’ Junior this summer. Tardy hits a long ball, which can be a big advantage at Shingle Creek. The last time this tournament was played here, in 2011, another long ball-hitter won the title – Annie Park, last year’s college player of the year.
Tardy could feel pressure from a handful of Floridians in the field. Emma Albrecht of Ormond Beach, Fla., had three top-5 finishes in AJGA events this year. Karin Arimoto of Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., played in four AJGA invitationals, with her top finish at T-15 at the Thunderbird International Junior.
After Tardy at No. 26, the highest-ranked player in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings is Anna Newell, a Tampa, Fla., product, at No. 27. Newell has committed to play for Tennessee, where older sister A.J. is a junior.
Luis Gagne enters as a favorite in the boys division. The Orlando native advanced to match play at the U.S. Junior earlier this summer with a T-17 finish in stroke play. He fell to Davis Riley in the Round of 32. Gagne plays and practices at Rio Pinar Golf Club in Orlando.
The player with the best ranking at Shingle Creek is Claudio Correa of Chile, No. 49 by Golfweek. Correa is a student at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., who has committed to play college golf at South Florida. Correa recently was seventh at the AJGA’s Burgett H. Mooney Jr. Rome Classic.
Matthew Lowe of Farmingdale, N.Y., also qualified for match play at the U.S. Junior. Lowe took Stanford freshman Jim Liu, a former U.S. Junior champion, to the 19th hole before falling. Lowe’s sister Alix will compete in the girls’ field at Shingle Creek.
The history: Past champions at this event include Stephanie Meadow, a senior at Alabama with eight collegiate titles; Annie Park, the USC sophomore who last year won the NCAA Women’s Championship; Mike Miller, a former Penn State player and top amateur; Yueer Cindy Feng, runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur; and Doris Chen, a USC junior who won the Pac-12 Championship as a freshman and is a perennial contender in USGA events. The event has been played at Reunion Resort and Celebration Golf Club in addition to Shingle Creek.
Who’s going to win: Hard to bet against Tardy in the women’s division. The Georgia commit impressed at the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Maria Fassi, however, also is an up-and-coming player who drew a long line of college recruiters this summer.
In the boys’ division, keep an eye on Correa, at No. 51, the highest-ranked player in that field. Gagne, however, is a local. Both are good bets.