Paolucci Park named Rolex Junior Players of the Year
Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Rolex Junior Player of the Year award recognizes one boy and one girl who had the most outstanding year in junior golf events at the national level. Past recipients have gone on to become some of the most esteemed players on the PGA and LPGA Tours, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III, Hunter Mahan, Scott Verplank, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Paolucci finished the season No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings while Park was No. 2 in the girls rankings, helping them earn this distinction and secure spots on their respective Rolex Junior All-America First Teams.
A three-time second-team selection, Paolucci ascended to the No. 1 spot in the Polo Golf Rankings after winning the Thunderbird International Junior in May. A second-place finish at the FootJoy Invitational followed by another title-winning run at the Rolex Tournament of Champions secured his No. 1 spot for the duration of the summer.
Park has been a Rolex Junior All-American for five consecutive years. She makes a return to the first team for the first time since 2007. Park’s 2010 season was highlighted by wins at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship. A win at the year-end PING Invitational moved Park up one spot in the Polo Golf Rankings ahead of two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year, Victoria Tanco.
Their accomplishments during the past season will be heralded Nov. 21 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The awards ceremony, dubbed “The Greatest Night in Junior Golf,” will also trumpet the achievements of the rest of golf’s next generation by means of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams, HP Scholastic Junior All-America Teams and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award.
About Anthony Paolucci’s 2010 Season
Paolucci’s 2010 campaign was a constant stream of top-three finishes in some of the world’s most competitive junior golf events. He started the season with a third-place finish at the HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods held in February, moving him inside the top 10 of the Polo Golf Rankings.
Paolucci picked up his first career AJGA win at the Thunderbird International Junior, posting a 12-under-par total and claiming the title with a three-shot cushion. The win gave him the No. 1 spot in the Polo Golf Rankings.
In June, Paolucci put an exclamation point on his new position at No. 1 with a statement-making 65 in the first round at the FootJoy Invitational. He finished the tournament one shot back for a tie for second. Two weeks later he picked up his second title at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, conquering Blessings Golf Club as the only player to shoot under par.
Paolucci proved he has the ability to compete in high stakes match play as he worked his way into the final eight at the U.S. Junior Amateur, eventually falling in the quarterfinals. In August, he finished second at the 35th Junior PGA Championship, besting his third-place finish in 2009.
Paolucci spent a majority of his September abroad, representing the U.S. at The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy and competing on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team. He finished tied for seventh in England and posted a match play record of 1-2-0 in Scotland, helping the U.S. claim its first Junior Ryder Cup victory on foreign soil.
A senior at La Jolla Country Day, Paolucci is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American and has given verbal commitment to continue his golf career with the USC Trojans.
Anthony Paolucci – 2010 Results
3rd, *HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods (76-68-71–215)
1st, *Thunderbird International Junior (66-69-69–204)
T2, *FootJoy Invitational (65-71-67-69–272)
1st, *Rolex Tournament of Champions (71-74-70-72–287)
T5, U.S. Junior Amateur Championship (lost to Robby Shelton, 2 and 1)
2nd, Junior PGA Championship (70-72-68–210)
* Denotes AJGA event
About Kristen Park’s 2010 Season
It had been four years since Park had won an AJGA event when she captured the Under Armour Hunter Mahan Championship in April. With a tie for seventh at the Annika Invitational and a tie for 10th at the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic hosted by Longbow Golf Club prior to, she needed a breakthrough win to move into the top 25 in the Polo Golf Rankings. It took a birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to claim the trophy at TPC Craig Ranch.
A month later, Park tied for ninth at the Thunderbird International Junior in a field that included the best juniors from around the world. She inched closer to a second title in June after posting a 66 in the final round of the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, giving her a second-place finish, just two strokes off the winner.
Her break came at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, where she bested Arkansas commit Emily Tubert on her future alma mater’s course by a convincing four strokes. It was Park’s second title and first invitational win that helped to push her into the top-five of the Polo Golf Rankings.
Come fall, Park knew that she needed to win The PING Invitational in order to be in contention for Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors. Finding herself in seventh place after the first round, Park worked her way up the leaderboard and into position for the win. Her final-round 67 tied the course record and gave her a second invitational title.
Park also had a busy September abroad, traveling with Paolucci to the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy and competing on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team. Her year also included a Canon Cup win with her teammates of the West and a run at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship, where she advanced to the third round of match play.
A senior at Sunnyhills High School, Park has also given a verbal commitment to Southern Cal.
Kristen Park – 2010 Results
T9, *Polo Golf Junior Classic (Lost to AJ Newell, 19 holes)
T7, *Annika Invitational (75-70-77–222)
T10, *Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic hosted by Longbow Golf Club (74-74-75–223)
1st, *Under Armour® / Hunter Mahan Championship (71-71-76–218)
T9, *Thunderbird International Junior (72-74-73–219)
2nd, *ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior (75-71-66–212)
1st, *Rolex Tournament of Champions (73-73-73-71–290)
1st, *The PING Invitational (74-70-67–211)
T9, U.S. Girls Junior Championship (Lost to Victoria Tanco, 5 and 3)
5th, Junior PGA Championship (73-71-73–217)
* Denotes AJGA event
Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker
John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.
The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.
That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.
He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.