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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Cody Proveaux isn’t a prototypical AJGA All-American. He’s not a product of a golf academy; the nearest course is 25 miles from his home in Leesville, S.C. His swing is unorthodox, with an early wrist set, loopy move at the top and dramatic drop on the downswing. And his resume isn’t chock-full of junior and amateur victories, his only two titles coming in the past 11 months.
Yet Proveaux, 17, was named the AJGA Rolex Player of the Year on Wednesday, the culmination of his meteoric rise to national prominence.
“Just to know my name is up there with Phil and Tiger and Hunter Mahan, it hasn’t even completely sunk in yet,” Proveaux said by phone. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
When he received the call from an AJGA official at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Proveaux was in the locker room at Pelion High School, gathering his belongings after gym class. His buddies didn’t wait long to share the news with their fellow classmates -- they started chanting “World champ!” down the hallway.
That Proveaux would be named Player of the Year was no guarantee. After poor finishes in the last two AJGA invitationals ...
Emma Talley’s junior golf days may be waning, but she hasn’t slowed in her collection of accolades. The Alabama commit won her fourth consecutive AJGA event Monday at the AJGA Girls Championship, setting the record for most victories in succession on the elite junior circuit.
Talley shot 4-under 212 (67-71-74) at Furman Golf Club in Greenville, S.C., beating Mariah Stackhouse by four shots. The victory put her ahead of Juliet Vongphoumy, Leigh Anne Hardin and Kim Rowton, each of whom won three times in a row.
“The goal was to win, and I didn’t need to go really low,” Talley said of her final found.
Talley also owns the AJGA records for scoring record in a girls event and largest margin of victory after winning the 2010 Huntsville Junior by 22 strokes with her 15-under 198 total.
Per usual for Talley, a 17-year-old from Princeton, Ky., it’s been a tightly scheduled summer. She won all three AJGA starts in June (Junior at Quad Cities, Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior, Franklin Junior) to tie the record, then jetted to Sunriver, Ore., for the Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of the premier events in junior golf. Shortly ...
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – They play with a simple objective in mind: Become the No. 1 player in the state of Texas, become the best player in the country. For the top three juniors in the 2014 class, standing alone in the Lone Star State is an increasingly difficult task.
Just consider this scouting report:
• Connor Black, 15, of Katy: One of the purest ballstrikers on any junior circuit, short hitter, great putter, steady demeanor, proven champion.
• Will Zalatoris, 14, of Plano: Has “the best swing in junior golf,” said one prominent player, not afraid to go low, has seemingly infinite potential.
• Scottie Scheffler, 15, of Dallas: Scrappy, scrambler and sneaky, will only get better as his body fills out.
Get to know them. Study their games. All three are in the top 17 here at the Junior PGA Championship, one of the final events of the summer. In a few weeks, they’ll begin their sophomore year of high school, even if their college courtship began years ago. Coaches began contacting Black in 2007, when he was in seventh grade. Now, he doesn’t even notice their presence on the course. Zalatoris won’t seriously consider colleges until next year ...
Not long ago, the junior golf circuit was all 17-year-old Ginger Howard knew. Now the Suncoast Ladies Series – a developmental pro circuit in Florida – has become her new playground, and judging by her domination in three of the past four events, she has taken the transition in good stride.
Howard is the latest youngster to advance from junior golf to the pros, joining contemporaries Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda. Howard turned professional June 7, won a Suncoast event the following week, and has since added two more victories on that tour to her resume.
“The reason why I made the decision was I felt 100 percent committed, I didn’t have any doubts,” Howard said of deciding to skip college golf in favor of a professional career. “Also my play in the Ladies Suncoast Series, and I was playing well so it was just like a no-brainer.
“I just thought that making the jump would be great and fun and exciting and so far it is.”
Howard said the decision was one she made with her family, without consulting friends Thompson and Korda. After being waved into the first stage of LPGA tour Qualifying School last week with a special ...
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Awaiting Gavin Hall on his first day back at work: 20 salivating college coaches. Funny, the six-week layoff seemed harder for them. As one college coach said: “Gavin Hall could miss the next two years and it still wouldn’t matter. We all want him.”
And why not? Hall, 16, is the 10th-ranked junior in the country, and his left-handed swing is powerful and rhythmical and balanced, and he greets everyone with a smile – players, parents, volunteers, officials, everyone. So that’s appealing. But he hasn’t yet won on the national level, and that’s why he’s here, at the Junior PGA Championship, despite a six-week layoff and a monthlong break looming. “It was fun being out there,” said Hall, after a first-round 75 at Sycamore Hills. “Just getting into that competitive grind – that’s what I want to do.”
Unfortunately, he hasn’t done that nearly enough this summer. In March, a few days after his high-school basketball season ended, Hall underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist. (“Wear and tear,” he said.) When he returned three weeks later, he tied for 11th at the AJGA Thunderbird Invitational, then won the New York State ...
Summar Roachell and McKenzie Talbert were selected as Meg Mallon’s two captain’s picks for the U.S. Ping Junior Solheim Cup team Tuesday.
Roachell, of Conway, Ark., picked up her first junior golf victory at the Bubba Conlee Invitational on July 8, and followed the win by advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
“I think the Girls’ Junior played a big part in me being picked,” said Roachell, No. 35 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. “The whole thing (Junior Solheim) is match play, so for them to see me do well in match play, I think that went a long way.”
Talbert, of North Augusta, S.C., was a Rolex Junior All-American in 2010 and is a two-time Wyndham Cup participant, where she helped the East team to victory this year. Talbert is ranked No. 28 by Golfweek.
Roachell said she has never been overseas before, but that her game is well-suited for links golf.
“I hit the ball pretty low, which will be good for running the ball on those courses,” Roachell said. “And my chipping and putting has been good with all the work I’ve put into it, so I feel ...
BREMERTON, Wash. – As the victory lap turned down the back nine, Michael Greller looked at his player and put this shining moment in perspective. The caddie said: “Well, this is the last nine holes of your junior career.”
Jordan Spieth nearly stopped in the 10th fairway at Gold Mountain. It’s over? He’s been playing in junior events since he was 9, in front of college coaches since he was 13, and now he’s arguably one of the greatest junior players of all-time, having won the U.S. Junior Amateur for the second time in three years after a 6-and-5 victory Saturday over Chelso Barrett.
Yet two hours after winning . . . Spieth slipped into reverie. Red River Shootout, Ardmore, Okla., eighth grade. On the third hole at Dornick Hills, the then-13-year-old chose 5-iron while his older, stronger, bigger competitors used 9. John Fields, the head coach at Texas, waited behind the tee. Then Spieth hit it to 5 feet in front of the first college coach he’s ever seen. A sheepish grin.
“I thought, Oh my gosh, they all just saw me,” Spieth said. “I got over my 5-footer, and I swear I had a lazy eye looking ...
BREMERTON, Wash. – He tip-toed backward as soon as the ball began its glorious ascent. When it finally landed next to the flag, Jordan Spieth walked up to his opponent, Adam Ball, gripped his right shoulder and whispered, “There’s no way you’re getting inside that one.” No, not today. Even a friendly closest-to-the-pin contest would go Spieth’s way.
“Unbelievable,” Ball, 17, said, wiping his hair out of his eyes. “I’m happy to lose to a guy like him.”
For three hours Friday afternoon, Spieth delivered a vintage performance. He strode purposefully, shoulders back, chin up. He blew on his fingertips, and he chatted up the USGA officials, and he smiled, smiled wide, when his shots were executed to perfection. You heard that word a lot while walking around Gold Mountain. Perfection. Spieth won, 7 and 5, in an awe-inspiring romp to advance to the finals of the U.S. Junior Amateur.
Could this have come at a better time? Well, sure, a repeat Saturday wouldn’t hurt. But consider the circumstances: After his quarterfinal match Friday morning against Andrew Whalen, Spieth said he was still waiting for everything to click, for his irons to be struck with ...
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Summar Roachell stepped to the 11th tee Thursday morning at Olympia Fields Country Club with a 4-up lead on Manuela Carbajo Re and a major decision to make.
Roachell, looking to advance past the second round of match play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior for the first time in her career, could either go for the green at the 260-yard par 4 and risk dropping her drive in the creek guarding the green, or she could lay it up, knock her second shot around the tree in the middle of the fairway, and play it safe.
With the tees moved up from the 330-yard mark, where they had been all week, both players faced that shot for the first time. Carbajo Re, of course, had to go for it.
“I’ve had a couple tournaments this year where I’ve gotten in that situation where they moved the tees and I’ve done something different and it’s kind of messed me up,” Roachell said. “I just tried to stick to what I was doing the whole time.”
And so Roachell pulled a 5-iron, knocked it to 120 yards, then stuck a pitching wedge to 5 ...
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