Taylor Coleman was the talk of Las Colinas after storming to the top of the leaderboard as a little-known Texas teenager. Coleman, 16, qualified for her first LPGA start, the North Texas LPGA Shootout, in a qualifier designed specifically for the top junior girls in Texas. Three days later, she was sitting among the top 10 players with a first-round 68.
Coleman burst into the spotlight so fast that we barely had time to get to know her. The 16-year-old heard about the opportunity to qualify for the LPGA event at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas from boyfriend Austin Connelly, another top junior golfer (Connelley recently won the AJGA Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship and finished T-13 at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley). Coleman submitted an application to the Nexus Club, the organization sponsoring the qualifer, and was granted an opportunity to play. She shot 1-over 72 and earned one of two spots reserved in the field.
Coleman had played a few practice rounds at Las Colinas in preparation for the event, but before that, had never played the course. She lives about 280 miles south of Irving, in San Antonio.
“It sets up good for me ...
Two spots have been reserved for top junior girls in this month’s North Texas LPGA Shootout. A field of 18 of the top juniors in the region have been selected to play in a unique Monday qualifier for the LPGA event, the first tour stop in Texas since the 2009 LPGA Championship.
The top two finishes in the April 22 qualifier, named the North Texas High School Shootout, will get to play in the LPGA event that begins April 25 at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas.
The format for the North Texas High School Shootout has nine groups, each of which includes two high school players, one LPGA professional, and two sponsor-amateurs. The top two high school finishers in the 18-hole stroke-play competition earn playing positions in the LPGA tournament starting on April 25.
A similar event, the North Texas College Shootout, was played on March 15. North Carolina’s Casey Grice and Texas’ Madison Pressel earned tournament exemptions out of that event.
“We are tremendously fortunate to have such an outstanding collection of high school athletes for this first-time event,” said Mike Shearburn, leader of the selection committee for North Texas High School Shootout. “Creating special ...
Yvonne Zheng has earned a spot in the Symetra Tour’s next Florida stop, the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay, to be played April 26-28 in Sarasota, Fla.
Zheng, a 17-year-old UCLA signee who lives in Bradenton, Fla., earned the spot in a points race that stretched across 13 IMG Junior Golf Tour events. This is the second year the Symetra Tour has offered the exemption to a junior player, but last year only six events counted as qualifiers.
Zheng also vied for last year’s spot. She led in points entering the final qualifying event, played at The Golf Club of North Hampton in Fernandina Beach, Fla., only to be overtaken by Natalia Perez of Bolivia.
This year, Zheng held a 20-point lead on 2013 classmate Camila Serrano of Colombia. Zheng’s second-place finish March 19 at the IMG Junior Golf Tour event at Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, Fla., secured her spot at Sara Bay.
“I am just really excited about (Guardian Retirement Championship at) Sara Bay, so I’m going to practice a lot for it,” Zheng said. “Tee shots were important out there, so I was focused on putting myself in the fairway.”
Janice Moodie had a bit of sage advice for European Junior Solheim Cup hopefuls in advance of the Spanish International Ladies’ Amateur.
“My mother used to say, ‘Let your clubs do the talking and the rest will take care of itself,’ and that’s good advice for anyone who wants to get on in this game,” said Moodie, a three-time European Solheim Cup team member who will captain the European juniors in August. “I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all the girls the best of luck this season. I can’t wait to meet my team and getting down to the serious business of winning the trophy back from the Americans.”
The Spanish International Ladies Amateur, to be played Feb. 27-March 3 at Pula Golf Club in Mallorca, Spain, is the first of six qualifying events for the Junior Solheim Cup. Moodie issued a challenge to potential members of Europe’s team, asking them to play hard and set a goal to make the team. The event will be played at the Inverness Golf Club in Englewood, Colo., on Aug. 13-14, the days leading up to the Solheim Cup.
Six players will receive spots on the team ...
REUNION, Fla. – Each year, the AJGA’s Annika Invitational introduces the junior golf world to the next top international player. Three of the five winners in the event’s history have hailed from China, Argentina and France.
Spots are always reserved in the Annika for international invitees. This year, that included Annika Europe winner Linnea Strom, a long-hitting, soft-spoken Swede who began her week at Reunion Resort beside Annika Sorenstam at the tournament-opening press conference. It was not only her first time addressing media in such a formal setting, but her first time doing it in English.
“They had given me the questions before, so I was prepared,” Strom said with a big smile mid-week.
Strom relished the opportunity to do the press conference alongside fellow Swede Annika, a “really big” role model for the 16-year-old. She relished the opportunity to play in her tournament even more. Strom was that player who drew a trail of interest from the army of college coaches that annually attend the tournament.
Strom has expressed interest in attending college in the U.S., and her play at Reunion offered coaches many reasons to be excited. Strom played alongside Italian Virginia Elena Carta and Denmark ...
There is a name conspicuously missing about halfway down the field list for this weekend’s Annika Invitational. Alison Lee won’t travel cross country to defend, but it’s not because Lee’s junior career is over. This is only the beginning of a long season that will end with Lee’s name finding a place on the UCLA roster by fall.
Lee, a 17-year-old from Valencia, Calif., maintained her usually intense competition schedule in 2012, and it resulted in two AJGA invitational titles, a runner-up finish at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, two LPGA major starts and a spot on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team for a second time.
She’s earned a little break.
“I’m really taking a lot of time off golf right now,” Lee said. The last semester of her senior year at Valencia High School began on Jan. 14, and Lee is relishing the chance to “just enjoy everything.”
Included in that everything is the top spot in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings. When two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year Ariya Jutanugarn turned professional at the end of Ladies European Tour Q-School in December, Lee moved to the top.
“When I ...
The AJGA has adopted a note to Rule 14-3 in the USGA Rules of Golf that allows juniors to use distance-measuring devices in AJGA competition. The announcement came down Wednesday, following four case studies conducted during AJGA events in 2012.
“We are excited to introduce the use of rangefinders in all of our events in 2013,” said Mark Oskarson, the AJGA's chief operating officer. “With all the information we gathered over the course of the year, we feel this is the right direction for our organization.”
The studies gathered information from parents, juniors and staff about types of rangefinders that are most popular among junior players and how allowing their use might affect pace of play. In 2012, the average 18-hole pace of play for all AJGA events was 4 hours and 23 minutes. AJGA studies showed there was not a major impact, positive or negative, on pace of play where rangefinders were used.
By permitting the use of rangefinders, the AJGA’s policy becomes more consistent with college golf, which permits rangefinders.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – When Justin Pagila lifted his bag at the end of a long day at the Junior PGA Championship, a single “A” appeared on the bottom. It represents the U.S. Army. Pagila is proud to have committed to play golf at West Point beginning in the fall of 2013.
Pagila, a 17-year-old from Dublin, Calif., says he always has wanted to become an officer, and getting to play golf on the way to that goal is a bonus.
“Obviously Army hasn’t been that much of a name in college golf, but we’re looking to change that,” Pagila said. He’ll play under third-year head coach Brian Watts, a figure who Pagila said keeps a dream of professional golf alive without Pagila having to sacrifice the desire to serve his country.
Pagila’s name is one that’s familiar in Northern California. The week before arriving at Sycamore Hills Golf Club for the Junior PGA Championship, Pagila traveled to Eagle, Idaho, with three of his golf buddies to attempt a title defense at the Junior America’s Cup, an event consisting of 17 four-man teams from the western half of the U.S., Canada and Mexico ...
ORLANDO, Fla. – By the time Sierra Brooks had completed her first AJGA Wyndham Cup on July 26, she had compiled an individual record of 3-1-0 and was celebrating on Bay Hill’s 18th green with the winning East team.
The petite 14-year-old with the thick blonde braid disappeared in that crowd of screaming upperclassmen, but one day it’s likely she’ll be at the forefront of such a scene. Teammate Jaye Marie Green, who made the Wyndham Cup her last event as a junior before heading off to LPGA Q-School in the fall, predicts that will be sooner rather than later.
“She’s so good, she has so much potential it’s unbelievable,” Green said at the end of the tournament. “For her only being 14 and for her to hit it as far as she does for being young and little? It’s just unbelievable. . . . I’m scared for everyone else.”
Brooks was the youngest female member of the East team at the annual throwdown between 20 of the top players from the East and 20 of the top players from the West. On paper, Brooks looked like the most inexperienced too. Her play didn’t reflect it ...
Caddie Steve Molinelli, who sells and appraises dental practices by day, likes to pick up a bag when a major USGA or local amateur event is played near his San Francisco home. The Olympic Club member looped for quarterfinalist Casie Cathrea last week at the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif., for Colt Knost when he won the 2007 U.S. Amateur at Olympic and for Ryo Ishikawa at last month’s U.S. Open there. The 46-year-old is a member of the First Tee of San Francisco board of directors, and plays to a plus-1 handicap.
• • •
How does Casie’s game compare to a top male amateur or a pro?
Her ball-striking is phenomenal and better than most of the male amateurs that I play with. She plays with so much authority. I was really impressed at the U.S. Open watching guys hit on the range. I didn’t see anybody hit one thin, I didn’t see anybody hit one fat, and it’s been the same with Casie all week.
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Which course, Lake Merced or Olympic, sets up better for match play?
Olympic Club is a great match-play course ...
DALY CITY, Calif. – Casey Danielson has yet to see the Golden Gate Bridge this week. There will be time for that later – a lot of time.
Danielson, the three-time Wisconsin state high school champion who continually attracts an army of college coaches when she plays, soon will be a California resident. Now that she has her sights set on attending Stanford, Danielson, in the class of 2013, is off the market.
“I finally made my decision and I felt good about it,” she said. “The practice facility out there is amazing.”
Danielson owns arguably the best comeback of the week at Lake Merced Golf Club, delivered in Wednesday’s opening round of match play. Four down to Stephanie Lau at No. 13, Danielson won the next five holes. She birdied three of them (Nos. 14, 17 and 18).
“I didn’t let myself give up or get down,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to go home.”
By Thursday morning, Danielson’s ballstriking was back to normal, and she cruised through her second-round match against Megan Khang to advance, 3 and 2. Danielson got a big boost from two tap-in birdies and a tap-in eagle. The latter she made at ...
DALY CITY, Calif. – There are perks to sleeping in your own bed during a national championship, and the ability to stick to a routine is one of them. Even though it meant getting up long before the sun, Casie Cathrea made time for a run before pulling away from her Livermore, Calif., home at 5:15 a.m. to make a 7:20 a.m. tee time in the U.S. Girls' Junior at Lake Merced Golf Club.
It was just a 10- or 15-minute jog, but it got the blood flowing nonetheless. Next thing you know, Cathrea was in the clubhouse with a 6-under 66. That’s not only the course record at Lake Merced, but it assured the 16-year-old would make the cut. After a first-round 82, it was a little bit dire.
Cathrea, who has committed to Oklahoma State for the fall of 2013, said nothing profound happened after she went home Monday. She just did a little bit of thinking.
“I just thought to myself, ‘Hey, if you shoot even par tomorrow, you’ll be fine,’” she said.
It was so much better. Starting at No. 10, Cathrea opened with three birdies before a bogey at ...
When Megan Khang plays the U.S. Women’s Open in July, she’d like to be paired with someone who matches her 5-foot-1 stature. Among the candidates is LPGA player Ai Miyazato.
The 14-year-old isn’t terribly picky, however, when it comes to standing next to an LPGA player. She’d also take Paula Creamer or Lexi Thompson. Just to be playing in her first Women’s Open is a thrill itself. She’s tried qualifying for the tournament twice before, but this year things just came together. She finished second May 21 at Women’s Open sectional qualifying in Longmeadow, Mass.
“The last two times we tried qualifying for the Open I don’t think we were so close,” Khang says, referring to her and caddie/father Lee. “I don’t think we were close at all.”
Khang, of Rockland, Md., hasn’t even finished her freshman year of high school -- that doesn’t happen until June 14. She doesn’t play on her high school golf team because she likes to play more than practice. For now at least.
Khang also has competed in the past three U.S. Girls’ Juniors, and is a well-known player in ...
For now, Sarabande Golf Club looks more like a motocross track than a golf course. But by the end of August, Ben Pauluhn hopes it will provide students at Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy a one-of-a-kind practice experience.
Renovations began in April on the 18-hole course, closed in June 2011 by the previous owner, that will make it a state-of-the-art practice facility for the roughly 80 students who study under the academy’s namesake instructor. Pauluhn, project manager for the Sarabande renovations, hopes the new facilities will add another facet to Gilchrist’s academy. Since its inception in 2008, the academy has outgrown the facilities at Mission Inn. Pauluhn said Sarabande, tucked across the street from the resort in tiny Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., about an hour north of Orlando, can help address that growth.
Pauluhn, formerly the operations manager at the academy, oversees Sarabande Property Company, which is redeveloping the property for use by the Gilchrist Academy. The Sarabande facilities will also be available to a small number of residents in the surrounding Sarabande community.
The first phase of the renovation project will turn three of the previous holes into a 16-acre practice facility with a short-game area, putting green, driving range ...
Before the Americans and Europeans duel at Medinah, the world’s best junior players will compete at the eighth annual Junior Ryder Cup on Sept. 24-25 at Olympia Fields (Ill.). Representing the U.S. at the biennial competition, to be held Monday and Tuesday of Ryder Cup week, has become one of the driving forces for many elite players as they fill out their summer schedules. Captained by Roger Warren, a former PGA president and current president at Kiawah Island, the 12-player team (six boys, six girls) will be finalized Aug. 7. The overall series is tied, 3-3-1. Golfweek spoke recently with Chris Childers, the PGA of America's junior-golf manager, to discuss the upcoming Junior Ryder Cup:
How is this year’s team shaping up?
Roger has a great opportunity on his hands. The game is just very deep right now and in a great place: Jim Liu, Gavin Hall, Connor Black, Alison Lee, Karen Chung. The cream always tends to rise to the top.
How will Olympia Fields be set up?
It’ll be a very stern test of match-play golf. We’re fiddling with yardages, but it’ll be somewhere around 6,900-7,000 yards for the ...
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