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AJGA permits use of rangefinders for 2013 events

Golfweek Staff

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.


Pagila will serve country, play golf at West Point

Julie Williams

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 ...

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Sierra Brooks, 14, about to hit her stride

Julie Williams

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 ...

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Q&A: Steve Molinelli, caddie by the Bay

Julie Williams

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.

• • •

Which course, Lake Merced or Olympic, sets up better for match play?

Olympic Club is a great match-play course ...

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For Danielson, one close call at Girls' Jr. was enough

Julie Williams

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 ...

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Local girl Cathrea rebounds with 66 at Lake Merced

Julie Williams

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 ...

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Khang qualifies for Women's Open, wins pro event

Julie Williams

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 ...

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Renovations under way for Gilchrist practice facility

Julie Williams

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 ...

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Q&A: Chris Childers, PGA junior-golf manager

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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AJGA's pace-of-play focus will help college game

Lance Ringler

PLANO, Texas – This past weekend, I experienced one of those Twilight Zone moments.

About halfway through a 36-hole day at the AJGA Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship, I was walking near the Gleneagles Country Club clubhouse and noticed a few of the players hitting balls on the range, a few rolling putts on the practice green. No big deal. Those images did not register until I walked up the steps, entered the dining area and noticed a room full of players enjoying lunch.

It was then that I realized something was just a little off.

Enjoying a sit-down lunch or hitting a few balls between rounds on a 36-hole day is something that simply does not happen at the collegiate level, where I spend the most time watching golf.

It’s not that it is not possible, because it clearly is. The problem is, there is no time for the college players to take a 45-minute break. It’s not uncommon for those rounds of golf to go well past five hours and sometimes into the six-hour range. I’ve even heard of six-hour-plus rounds.

How is that possible here at this junior event? After all, the field this weekend ...

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Ferreira finding success after total game revamp

Julie Williams

PLANO, Texas – The AJGA doesn’t often come to Jordan Ferreira, so this week she went to them. Safe to say she’ll leave thoroughly exhausted, but then again, that was the point.

After the wind-blown first round of the Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship on Friday, Ferreira, of University Place, Wash., explained that playing the North Texas-based event was key in her college prep plans. She’s committed to Notre Dame for the fall of 2013, which means 36-hole days tournament days soon will be second nature. Ferreira is no stranger to those back home, mom Teresa explains, but not in tournament play.

“I wanted to play 36 holes,” Ferriera said simply. The Hunter Mahan junior is the only tournament on the AJGA schedule that features that format.

It just so happened that Ferreira and the rest of the field battled wind gusts of up to 30 mph Friday morning, which certainly should add to the fatigue factor. Nonetheless, Ferreira posted a 5-over 77 that left her in the 10th position on the leaderboard. After a quick lunch, she was ready to rebound during the second 18.

Ferreira is a familiar name in the Northwest -- she was named the ...

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Jackson is ready for her turn in the spotlight

REUNION, Fla. -- Watching Janie Jackson swing a golf club -- and, milliseconds later, watching her ball scream down the fairway -- you can’t help but marvel at the possibilities. Her swing is long and flowing and powerful, capable of producing 275-yard drives on autopilot. She is tall and strong, with plenty of speed and torque. And she’s aggressive, really aggressive, as she cuts corners and takes angles other competitors can’t even fathom.

Kind of like her pal, Lexi Thompson.

So why is Jackson playing in the third-to-last group, on the opposite nine of the leaders, some 20 shots behind eventual champion Alison Lee?

Her golf bag still slung around her shoulders after Monday’s final round of the AJGA Annika Invitational, Jackson fiddled nervously with the longest club in her bag.

“Putting and chipping,” she said. “They can always be better.”

It’s why after leaving Reunion Resort, where she tied for 48th, Jackson doesn’t even know when she’ll play another national event. She wants to “lay off the tourneys for a while,” and continue to work virtually every day at her home course, The Ledges in Huntsville, Ala., under the supervision of instructor Mark Blackburn. Yes ...

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Aubert feeling like a local at Annika

Julie Williams

REUNION, Fla. – To call Shannon Aubert a local in Central Florida isn’t exactly correct. Only 16, Aubert already has put down and pulled up roots in multiple continents. She’s moved more times than most do their entire lives, and as a result her list of “people” is long.

For now, Aubert is calling Orlando, Fla., home. She’s been playing and practicing out of Reunion Resort for the past four years and works with swing coach Henri Reis and personal trainer Kai Fusser at the Annika (Sorenstam) Academy. She’s grown so close to the academy’s namesake that the former World No. 1 addresses her in something like a motherly tone. Aubert and Sorenstam sat next to each other as they answered questions from the media during Friday’s pre-tournament press conference.

“It’s pretty amazing because if you think about it, I probably don’t realize how much of a privilege it is,” Aubert said. “She’s the No. 1 woman golfer in the whole world, ever. It’s most of the girls’ dreams just to meet her, see her. The fact that I can be with her and she knows who I am, it’s ...

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My year in golf: Julie Williams

Julie Williams

Piece by piece, I watched So Yeon Ryu’s golf bag dismantled in the aftermath of the U.S. Women’s Open. On that brisk Monday morning at The Broadmoor, I was waiting patiently for my five minutes with Ryu’s caddie, Dean Herden, while the big Aussie handed out bits of memorabilia – balls, gloves – to the line of fans that approached him on the 18th green.

“Sorry, mate. I’m fresh out,” Herden eventually had to tell one middle-aged man, wiping sweat from his brow as he turned to me and spoke fondly of a player he had known since she was a teenager – a player whom he had helped learn English while he looped for her friends back home in South Korea. Meanwhile, Ryu, 21, displayed a charming smile off the side of the green despite being soaked from champagne courtesy of compatriots and past Open champions Se Ri Pak and Eun-Hee Ji. Soon she was whisked away for interviews, and I raced back to my computer to produce 1,000 words on a long-past East Coast deadline. Among the media contingent in attendance that day, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t alone in ...

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2011 in review: Top 10 junior golf storylines

Golfweek Staff

Boys

1.) Jordan Spieth wins second U.S. Junior: There are two players in the history of junior golf to win multiple U.S. Junior Amateur titles: Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

Spieth put the finishing touches on his historic junior career by defeating Chelso Barrett in the finals of the U.S. Junior at Gold Mountain. Spieth also won the event in 2009 at Trump National.

“Everything’s gonna change,” Spieth said after the victory, referring to his transition into college golf. “Things are definitely going to change.”

Apparently not: After the fall semester, Spieth is the top-ranked freshman in the country, sitting at No. 2 overall, behind Texas teammate Dylan Frittelli.

2.) Cody Proveaux named AJGA Player of the Year: That first win was a long time coming for Cody Proveaux of Leesville, S.C.

But after his win at last year’s Polo Junior Classic, where he thumped then-top-ranked Anthony Paolucci, Proveaux established himself as the player to beat in 2011, winning the Junior PGA and finishing second in two AJGA invites on his way to being named Player of the Year.

“Just to know my name is up there with Phil and Tiger and Hunter Mahan ...

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