Paolucci Park named Rolex Junior Players of the Year

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BRASELTON, Ga. – California natives Anthony Paolucci, 18, of Rancho Santa Fe, and Kristen Park, 17, of Buena Park, were named the 2010 Rolex Junior Players of the Year, the American Junior Golf Association announced Wednesday. This is the first time being named Rolex Junior Player of the Year for both players.

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