By Haley Hodoval, AJGA Communications
The mission statement of the AJGA is to provide, “overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college scholarships through competitive junior golf.” This goal is no more evident than in the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships.
This past week, May 14-16, the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Regional tournaments took place around the country with the five lowest scoring teams from each region and the lowest scoring individuals per region not on those teams advancing to the NCAA Championship, which will take place May 29 – June 3 at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida. The No. 1-ranked Florida State University competed in the Chapel Hill Regional at the par-72 UNC Finley Golf Course and finished at 11-under-par 853 to advance to the finals.
The Seminoles’ squad includes four AJGA alumni, Jack Maguire, Hank Lebioda, Josh Lee and Cristobal Del Solar. Maguire was a 2012 second-team Rolex Junior American in addition to his eight top-10 finishes during his six-season tenure with the AJGA. He finished T7 at 5-under-par 211, while Del Solar and Lebioda finished in a four-way tie for ninth.
The 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Regionals also occurred May 7-9 with 132 participants advancing to the finals, which will ensue May 22-27, prior to the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. No. 1-ranked University of Southern California advanced to the finals after dominating the St. George region with their team made up of AJGA alumnae Annie Park, Amy Lee, Gabriella Then, Kyung Kim and Karen Chung. During their AJGA careers, this quintet combined for 21 Rolex Junior All-America honors, and all five players helped the team win its sixth consecutive regional title by placing in the top 11 individually.
The LPGA’s Kingsmill Championship presented by JTBC captivated the Williamsburg, Va., community from May 14-18 where 18-year-old Minjee Lee made LPGA history by becoming one of only seven women to win before her 19th birthday. Lee’s tenure with the AJGA included an 11th-place finish at the 2011 Thunderbird International Junior. Fellow AJGA alum Alison Lee, noted for being a nine-time AJGA champion and the 2013 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, produced an impressive 3rd-place finish at Kingsmill marking her best finish since turning pro in December 2014. Two-time Rolex Junior All-American Megan Khang was the only amateur to make the cut and finished T58 with a 1-over-par total.
The PGA TOUR Wells Fargo Championship showcased some accomplished AJGA alumni. Patrick Rodgers, who was an All-American at Stanford, and Webb Simpson, the 2001 Rolex Tournament of Champions victor, ended 14-under-par for a T2 finish. Gary Woodland, Phil Mickelson, and Robert Streb finished T4 at 12-under-par.
Mika Liu, 16, and Rinko Mitsunaga, 18, captured the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title at the par-72 Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore., with a 4-and-3 win over Robynn Ree and Hannah O’Sullivan. Liu has 12 top-10 finishes during her five seasons at the AJGA, while her partner and University of Georgia commit, Mitsunaga, has 21 top-10 finishes in her seven seasons and is currently No. 8 in the Polo Golf Rankings.