LIM, WALLACE WIN THUNDERBIRD INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR
Boys and Girls Division champions come from behind to take titles
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Hyun Seok Lim of Fullerton, Calif., and Jessica Wallace of Langley, British Columbia, each came from behind to win their first AJGA Invitational titles Monday at the Thunderbird International Junior. Lim and Wallace, both 17, each carded 5-under-par 67s during the final round, good enough to win by one and four, respectively.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Thunderbird International Junior featured 78 players from 17 states and 11 foreign countries. The field consisted of 48 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, and included 45 Rolex Junior All-Americans. Played at Grayhawk Golf Club, home of the PGA TOUR's Frys.com Open, the par-72 course measured 7,112 yards for the boys and 6,275 yards for the girls.
Several past participants of the Thunderbird International Junior have gone to play in the FBR Open, the PGA TOUR event sponsored by The Thunderbirds each year. Ryan Moore, Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan and Kevin Na all competed in the FBR Open, which is currently in its 73rd year. The FBR Open recently raised more than $7 million for charity in just one year.
In the Boys Division, Lim began the final round four strokes behind second-round leader William Kropp of Edmond, Okla. Over the course of the day, four additional players contended for the title, but Lim was the only player who failed to falter in the closing nine holes.
“All the players ahead of me are so solid I knew they weren't going to fall back to me,” the University of Southern California commitment said. “I had to catch up and go after them.”
He posted a 2-under-par 34 on the front nine that included four birdies and two bogeys, which helped get him within striking distance of the leaders. His flawless 3-under-par 33 on the back side, highlighted by three birdies and no bogeys, is what vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard.
“When there was a scoreboard, I was watching — just staring at it every second,” he said. “I was looking at the leaderboard the whole time.”
After Lim posted his 7-under-par 209 tournament total, he waited while two more groups finished on No. 18. Chan Kim of Chandler, Ariz., Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., and Kropp all had some form of opportunity around the No. 18 green to force a playoff.
“I've never been that nervous before,” he said.
When the final putt dropped, Kim, Main and Kropp tied for second at 6-under-par 210. Jordan Spieth of Dallas and Pontus Widegren of Danderyd, Sweden, tied for fifth at 5-under-par 211.
Wallace's 67 was the round of the event in the Girls Division. Trailing by four heading into the final round, Wallace carded five birdies and no bogeys on her way to posting her lowest competitive round of her career.
Things went well for her early in her round. After making birdie on the 392-yard, par-4 third, she knew she had a chance, the Pepperdine commitment said.
When she made the turn at 2-under-par 34, she was within one shot of second-round leader Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif. The lead was hers for the day when she made birdie on No. 13 about the same time as Lua, playing in the group behind her, made bogey on No. 12. She would further distance herself from the pack by playing the final five holes at 2-under-par.
“My short game was really good all week,” she said. “My game feels really good right now. I'm just going to try and keep it up and get ready for the next tournament.”
By winning the Thunderbird International Junior, Wallace became the second international player and first Canadian to win the ninth annual event.
This win is the biggest of her career, she said. Prior to this week, she had six AJGA top-10 finishes, including a third-place finish at the 2007 Rolex Girls Junior Championship, another AJGA Invitational.
“I always want to do well for my country,” she explained. “I try to play my best to get some recognition for Canadian golf.”
Her 3-under-par 213 tournament total cleared the rest of the field by four strokes. Lua shot a 3-over-par 75 and ended the event in second at 1-over-par 217. Mary Michael Maggio of Conway, Ark., who began the day in 13th place, carded a 3-under-par 69 to move into a tie for third at 218 with Kristen Park of Buena Park, Calif. Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., and first-round leader Marika Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., tied for fifth at 220.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
As in the past, Callaway Golf will lend its support to the event. Other major sponsors are the Thunderbirds, the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Fund, Grayhawk Golf Club and the FBR Open.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
For more information about the Thunderbird International Junior or any AJGA event, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (877) 373-2542.