2012 U.S. Girls' Junior Storylines


By Christina Lance
July 15, 2012


Of the 156 championship competitors, 95 are competing in their first U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Eighty-six young women are competing in their first USGA championship.

The average age of the Girls’ Junior competitors is 15.8 years old.

There are two 12-year-olds in the field: Youngin Chun, of Korea (DOB May 14, 2000), and Zora Gittens, of Parkland, Fla. (DOB May 3, 2000). The oldest player in the field is Haley Mills, of Tyler, Texas, who will turn 18 on July 22, the day after the championship’s scheduled completion.

There are 13 countries represented at the championship: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Thailand and the United States.

There are 34 states represented at the championship: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Defending Girls’ Junior champion Ariya Jutanugarn, 16, of Thailand, is the only USGA champion in the field. There are also three USGA runners-up: Karen Chung, 17, of Livingston, N.J. (2008 Girls’ Junior); Katelyn Dambaugh, 17, of Goose Creek, S.C. (2010 Girls’ Junior); and Ashlan Ramsey, 16, of Milledgeville, Ga. (2012 Women’s Amateur Public Links). Rachel Dai, 15, of Milton, Ga., was a member of Georgia’s winning team at the 2011 Women’s State Team Championship.

Eight players in the field competed in the U.S. Women’s Open two weeks ago at Blackwolf Run. Two players made the cut: low amateur Lydia Ko, 15, of New Zealand (74-72-79-75—300, T39), and Alison Lee, 17, of Valencia, Calif. (75-74-79-78—306, T60). Also competing were Elisabeth Bernabe, 17, of Anaheim Hills, Calif. (74-79—153, MC); Jisoo Keel, 16, of Canada (81-77—158, MC); Megan Khang, 14, of Rockland, Mass. (75-80—155, MC); Rinko Mitsunaga, 15, of Roswell, Ga. (87-81—168, MC); Hannah O’Sullivan, 14, of Cupertino, Calif. (76-78—154, MC); Annie Park, 17, of Levittown, N.Y. (81-84—165, MC); and Gigi Stoll, 15, of Beaverton, Ore. (86-84—170, MC).

As of July 11, seven players in the championship field are in the top 50 of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking: Karen Chung (No. 44); Casey Danielson, 17, of Osceola, Wis. (No. 29); Ariya Jutanugarn (No. 3); Lydia Ko (No. 1); Minjee Lee, 16, of Australia (No. 4); Nicole Morales, 16, of South Salem, N.Y. (No. 32); and Su-Hyun Oh, 16, of Australia (No. 21).

Four championship competitors represented their home countries at the 2010 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship: Marijosse Navarro, 15, of Mexico; Lydia Ko (New Zealand); Lucia Polo, 16, of Guatemala; and Maria Torres, 17, of Puerto Rico.

Alison Lee is competing in her sixth Girls’ Junior, while Karen Chung is competing in her fifth championship. Seven players are competing in their fourth Girls’ Junior: Casie Cathrea, 16, of Livermore, Calif.; Yueer Feng, 16, of Orlando, Fla.; Ariya Jutanugarn; Megan Khang; Nicole Morales; Annie Park; and Isabel Southard, 17, of Sharon, Mass.

There is one set of twin sisters in the field: Alexandra and Katherine Sborov, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif.

Player Notes

Lakareber Abe
, 16, of Angleton, Texas, was a quarterfinalist at the 2012 Women’s Amateur Public Links, and the runner-up at the 2012 UnderArmour/Vicky Hurst Championship.

Ju Hee Bae, 17, of Chantilly, Va., carded her first hole-in-one at the 2011 Girls’ Junior at Olympia Fields (Ill.) C.C.

Gabby Barker, 15, of Caldwell, Idaho, is half Native American. Her father’s family is from the Shoshone/Paiute tribe out of the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada.

Kaylee Benton, 15, of Cabot, Ark., won 2011 Junior Girls Player of the Year honors from the Arkansas State Golf Association. Her older brother, Nicklaus Benton, met his fiancé, Catherine Dolan, when both were competitors at the joint APL/WAPL championships at Bandon Dunes in 2011. 

 

Sabrina Bonanno, 16, of Norridge, Ill., won the 2012 Plantations Junior Golf Tour Championship.

Klara Castillo, 16, of Albuquerque, N.M., was born in Troitsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, just north of Kazakhstan, and adopted when she was nine months old. Her cousin is professional golfer Notah Begay III, and she learned the game of golf from his father and her uncle, Notah Begay Jr. She is also a singer, and has been named to the New Mexico All-State Choir for five consecutive years.

Casie Cathrea, 16, of Livermore, Calif., was the stroke-play runner-up at the 2011 Girls’ Junior. She has committed to attend Oklahoma State University in the fall of 2013.

Karen Chung, 17, of Livingston, N.J., was the runner-up at the 2012 Rolex Tournament of Champions and won the 2011 Thunderbird International Junior.

Danielle Crilley, 16, of East Lansing, Mich., considers her most memorable golf experience to be winning her second Michigan high school championship by 63 strokes.

Kim Cifuentes, 17, of Gilbert, Ariz., played a round of golf with 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson and his wife Angie a few years ago.

Allisen Corpuz, 14, of Honolulu, Hawaii, became the youngest championship competitor in USGA history at age 10 when she qualified for the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, surpassing Michelle Wie. She attends the Punahou School, which also produced President Barack Obama, 2010 USA Curtis Cup Team member Stephanie Kono and Wie, the 2003 Women’s Amateur Public Links champion.

Rachel Dai, 15, of Milton, Ga., shot a career-low 67 in the second round of the 2011 Women’s State Team Championship at The Landings Club in Georgia. Her three-day total of 2-under 214 earned her individual medalist honors.

Katelyn Dambaugh, 17, of Goose Creek, S.C., won the 2012 Vicki DiSantis Junior Girls’ Championship, conducted by the Carolinas Golf Association, and has committed to attend the University of South Carolina. Dambaugh’s high-school teammate at Pinewood Preparatory Academy is fellow championship competitor Reona Hirai, 16, of Summerville, S.C.

Casey Danielson, 17, of Osceola, Wis., was a quarterfinalist at the 2011 Women’s Amateur. She is a three-time Wisconsin state high school champion.

Lauren Diaz-Yi, 17, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., earned the nickname “Golf Goddess” from her AP Statistics teacher. She enjoys learning about environmental sciences, and has committed to attend the University of Virginia.

Taylor Dorans, 17, of Erie, Colo., was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes at age five.

Courtney Dow, 14, of Frisco, Texas, has ancestors that were instrumental in founding Scotland’s Crail Golfing Society, one of the oldest golf clubs in the world. A major ladies’ tournament conducted there annually, the Dow Salver, is named after of one of her ancestors.

Jordan Ferreira, 17, of University Place, Wash., is a board member for The First Tee of Puget Sound. She was the 2011 Washington State Golf Association Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.

Monet Flores, 13, of Litchfield Park, Ariz., has won titles in Guatemala, Mexico and Scotland. She recorded her first career ace at her Girls’ Junior qualifier at Orange Tree Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Anne Freman, 17, of Las Vegas, Nev., was elected as her high school’s student body president for the 2012-13 school year.

Avery French, 17, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., is entering her senior year of high school, but has already competed enough courses at a local junior college to complete her freshman year of college.

Kathleen Gallagher, 15, of Greenwood, Miss., was the junior medalist at the 2011 Mississippi Women’s Golf Association State Amateur Championship. She comes from a large family of avid golfers. Her father, Jim Gallagher Jr., is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour and a USA representative at the Ryder and Presidents Cups. Her mother, Cissye Gallagher, is a former LPGA Tour player and now-reinstated amateur. Her older brother and high-school teammate, Thomas, will serve as her caddie during the Girls’ Junior, while her older sister, Mary Langdon (a golfer for Ole Miss), will caddie for their father at the PGA Tour’s True South Classic. Kathleen will celebrate her 16th birthday on July 20.

Kelly Grassel
, 17, of Chesterton, Ind., won the 2011 Indiana state high school golf championship. Her father, Rick, was a Chick Evans Scholar, while her brothers, Kyle and Ryan, play collegiate golf for the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Nebraska, respectively.

Haylee Harford, 15, of Leavittsburg, Ohio, won the AJGA’s 2012 National Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior.

Alice Jeong, 17, of Gardena, Calif., reached the semifinals of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, where she fell to eventual champion Kyung Kim. She was a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, and did traditional Korean dance for 10 years.

Lauren Johnson, 16, of Chattanooga, Tenn., attends the Baylor School, which counts among its’ golf alumni 2011 USA Walker Cup Team member Harris English and 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team member Brooke Pancake, as well as 2004 U.S. Amateur runner-up Luke List. Johnson is an avid reader, and considers “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernieres to be her favorite book.

Ariya Jutanugarn, 16, of Thailand, was the low amateur at the 2011 and 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championships. She won the 2012 Rolex Girls Junior Championship, Thunderbird International Junior and Women’s Western Amateur. She was also the runner-up at the 2012 South Atlantic Ladies Amateur Championship (the SALLY). Her older sister, Moriya, whom Ariya defeated at the Women’s Western, was the runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and Ariya served as her caddie after being eliminated in the second round of stroke play. Moriya caddied for Ariya during her 2011 Girls’ Junior victory.

Sophie Kitchen, 17, of Canada, gave up competitive downhill skiing to focus on golf. She represented her home country at the CAN-AM and Whistler Cup as a junior racer, and twice qualified for Canada’s national championship.

Jisoo Keel, 16, of Canada, is a member of Golf Canada’s 2012 national team. In May, she won the CN Canadian Women’s Tour’s professional event in British Columbia. Keel won the 2011 CN Future Links Pacific Championship, and was the Pacific Northwest Golf Association’s 2011 Junior Girl Player of the Year.

Hannah Kim, 16, of Chula Vista, Calif., was in a skiing accident in third grade that caused part of her face to be temporarily paralyzed due to a swollen nerve.

Lydia Ko, 15, of New Zealand, won the 2012 New South Wales Open in Australia at age 14, becoming the youngest person ever to win a professional event. She won the 2012 Australian Amateur and was the stroke-play medalist at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Also in 2011, Ko received the Mark H. McCormack Medal, which is awarded to the season’s top-ranked amateur. Ko attends the Institute of Golf in Auckland.

Stephanie Lau, 15, of Fullerton, Calif., is a basketball fan and enjoys watching Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Jeremy Lin.

Rosanna Lederhausen, 16, of Hinsdale, Ill., had the opportunity to talk about her game with PGA Tour stars Luke Donald and Dustin Johnson.

Alison Lee, 17, of Valencia, Calif., won the 2012 Legacy Junior Challenge, which earned her a spot in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, as well as the 2012 ANNIKA Invitational. She appears in the USGA’s new set of Public Service Announcements that feature USGA Members. She also made the cut in the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open at age 14 and has committed to attend UCLA in the fall of 2013.

Amy Lee, 15, of Brea, Calif., lost to eventual champion Ariya Jutanugarn in the semifinals of the 2011 Girls’ Junior.  

Minjee Lee, 16, of Australia, is a member of Golf Australia’s 2012 national tier-one squad.

Yu Liu, 16, of the People’s Republic of China, was a semifinalist at the 2011 Girls’ Junior, where she lost to eventual runner-up Dottie Ardina. She won the 2011 Under Armour/Vicky Hurst Championship.

Maddie McCrary, 16, of Wylie, Texas, became interested in the game by watching her next-door neighbor hitting golf-ball wiffle balls. She loves animals, and recently got to swim with and kiss a stingray in the Grand Cayman Islands.

Kelly McGovern, 17, of The Woodlands, Texas, lived in Doha, Qatar, during eighth and ninth grade. She was the only female junior golfer out of Doha Golf Club, and she participated on the all-male Advanced Qatar Junior Team, with competitions in Dubai and Bahrain.

Brogan McKinnon, 17, of Canada, is one of five sisters, all with unusual names – Rheagan, Tennyson, Austyn and Qwynn.

Felicia Paulina Medalla, 16, of Sausalito, Calif., goes by the nickname “Soul Golfer,” after Bethany “Soul Surfer” Hamilton, whom Felicia greatly admires.

Nicole Morales, 16, of South Salem, N.Y., won the 2011 Polo Golf Junior Classic. Her father is a tennis professional, and she was once one of the top-ranked junior tennis players in New York.

Kelli Murphy, 16, of Elgin, S.C., won the Carolinas Golf Association’s 2011 Carolinas Junior Girls Championship.

Marijosse Navarro, 15, of Mexico, won the 2012 Mexican Women’s Amateur Championship.

McKenzie Neisen, 16, of New Prague, Minn., is the younger sister of 2012 WAPL stroke-play runner-up Steffi Neisen.

Annie Park, 17, of Levittown, N.Y., advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 WAPL and the semifinals of the 2011 WAPL. She plays on her high school’ boys golf team as the school does not offer girls’ golf. She was named the Long Island Boys Golfer of the Year after becoming the first girl to win the Nassau County boys high school golf championship, where she finished six strokes ahead of her nearest competitor. Park will attend the University of Southern California starting in the spring of 2013.

Lucia Polo, 17, of Guatemala, won the Carolinas Golf Association’s 2012 Carolinas Junior Girls Championship. She moved to the United States at age 16 and now resides with her coach and his family in Greensboro, N.C. Polo is a four-time member of the Guatemalan national team (2009-12) and won the 2009 Guatemalan Open.

Su-Hyun Oh, 16, of Australia, is a member of Golf Australia’s 2012 national junior squad. She won the 2012 Australian Girls Amateur and was the runner-up at the 2012 Victorian Women’s Stroke Play.

Hannah O’Sullivan, 14, of Cupertino, Calif., won the 2010 California Junior Girls State Championship and became the event’s youngest winner. She is a junior member at The Olympic Club, site of the 2012 U.S. Open.

Ashlan Ramsey, 16, of Milledgeville, Ga., was the runner-up to Kyung Kim at the 2012 WAPL at Neshanic Valley Golf Course in New Jersey. Her nickname is “Silent Assassin,” as she does not like to talk on the golf course. She shot an 87 at Augusta National at age 10.

Summar Roachell
, 17, of Conway, Ark., won the 2011 and 2012 Bubba Conlee National Junior. She is active in “Golfing For Girls,” a program run by The First Tee of Arkansas.

Alexandra Sborov, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif., enjoys working with WISER, a philanthropic group that provides African girls with educational opportunities.

Katherine Sborov, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif., was the head coordinator and producer of “Every Fifteen Minutes,” a presentation at her high school about the dangers of drinking and driving. She hopes to follow her family tradition of becoming a doctor.

Callie Scheffler, 17, of Dallas, Texas, was the captain of her high school varsity golf and lacrosse teams, and is a former competitive swimmer. Her younger brother, Scottie, is competing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship being conducted concurrently with the Girls’ Junior at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H.

Sophia Schubert
, 16, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., regularly plays golf with her sister, her preacher and an 86-year-old church deacon. She had the opportunity to play 18 holes with her golf hero Nancy Lopez at Nashville Golf Club in 2008

Katherine Smith, 13, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., has her own jewelry business, “Kate’s Kreations,” and donates part of the profits to Project Pink. Her family owns and operates Ironman Golf Course, a par-3 course in rural Minnesota, and she helps with the daily operation. Katherine is good friends with 2009 Girls’ Junior champion and 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team member Amy Anderson and her family.

Isabel Southard, 17, of Sharon, Mass., won the 2012 Massachusetts girls high school championship.

Princess Mary Superal, 15, of the Philippines, won her home country’s 2012 Southern Ladies Championship.

Gigi Stoll, 15, of Beaverton, Ore., won Oregon’s 2012 Class 6A high school title by 10 strokes over her nearest competitor. She won the 2011 Oregon Girls Junior Amateur Championship. At age 11, Stoll advanced to the national finals of the Elks Free Throw Shooting Championship at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., where she finished sixth.

Bailey Tardy, 15, of Norcross, Ga., is a member of the Greater Atlanta Christian School girls’ golf team that won the 2012 Georgia Class AA state golf championship. She also won the individual championship.

Gabriella Then, 16, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., won the 2011 AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions in a playoff over Ariya Jutanugarn.

Taylor Totland, 17, of Tinton Falls, N.J., went cliff-diving with 2008 Girls’ Junior champion and current LPGA star Lexi Thompson last summer.

Monica Vaughn, 17, of Reedsport, Ore., won the 2010 Oregon Women’s Amateur, becoming the youngest champion in the 101-year history of the championship. She also won the 2010 Oregon Public Links and Junior Amateur championships, making her the first person to hold all three titles simultaneously. In 2011, Vaughn won the Oregon Women’s Stroke Play and Junior Stroke Play Championships.

Camilla Vik, 17, of Greenwich, Conn., has dual citizenship with the United States and Norway, and has competed in Europe for the past two summers. Along with English, Vik is fluent in French, Spanish and Swedish and can speak basic Norwegian.

Blakesly Warren, 16, of Chattanooga, Tenn., won the 2011 Tennessee Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship and was the junior medalist at the Tennessee Women’s Amateur Championship.

Tatiana Wijaya, 16, of Australia, won the women’s golf championship at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games (also known as the SEA Games) in a playoff after making a nine-stroke comeback on the final day.

Hannah Wood, 16, of Centennial, Colo., is “obsessed” with outer space and wants to discover how humans can travel at the speed of light.

Christina Lance is a coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at clance@usga.org.
 

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