BAUCH, SHIM EARN MEDALIST HONORS AT MISSION HILLS DESERT JUNIOR SRIXON QUALIFIER
Yang claims Girls Division Medalist Honors with a 4-over-par 74
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Benjamin Bauch of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., and James Shim of El Centro, Calif., carded matching one-under-par 69s to tie for the medalist honors at the Mission Hills Desert Junior Srixon Qualifier Sunday. In the Girls Division, Michelle Yang, of Los Angeles, won her first AJGA Srixon Qualifier with a 39-35—74.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Mission Hills Desert Junior Srixon Qualifier was held on the Westin Mission Hills Resort — Pete Dye Course. Seventy-nine boys and twenty girls ages 12-18 each competed for a chance to play in the Mission Hills Desert Junior that will take place from June 27-29 at the Mission Hills Country Club.
The longest consecutive running AJGA event at the same venue, the Mission Hills Desert Junior boasts past champions such as Bob May, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Kevin Na, Danielle Ammaccapane, Brandi Burton, Emilee Klein, Kellee Booth and Grace Park. These professionals all played in — and won — the Mission Hills Desert Junior before making household names for themselves at the amateur, collegiate and professional levels.
Bauch, who went from 17th on the alternate list to becoming a co-medalist in one day, was thankful for the opportunity to play in the Mission Hills Desert Junior Srixon Qualifier.
“I was just happy to get in today and take advantage of the situation,” he said. “I came to do what I wanted to do.”
The 16-year-old spoke well of his approach shots, giving them credit for his finish. Bauch birdied Nos. 4 and 12, with no bogeys on the back nine, helping him shoot a one-under-par 69.
“It feels great just hitting the ball solid,” he said. “All around it was a really good day.”
A recent high school graduate, Shim came to the tournament wanting to further his chances of playing golf at his future college, San Diego State University. The 18-year-old said he felt he has a leg up on other players, feeling comfortable with his surroundings.
“I'm used to this weather, and I think that will help,” he said. “(The Pete Dye Course) feels kind of like my home course.”
Shim hit 16 greens and 14 fairways en route to his medal. He sank a total of three birdies for the round and carded a 2-under-par 33 on the back nine. As for Shim's goals for the week, he has already accomplished one of them, but he is looking forward to crossing one more off his list.
“I wanted to qualify and get top five in the tournament,” he said.
In the Boys Division, 10 more juniors qualified and will be playing in this week's event: Jeffrey Stevens of Del Mar, Calif.; Michael Jae Woo Im of Fullerton, Calif.; and J.D. Archibald of Simi Valley, Calif., all shot one-over-par 71. James Albert of San Bernardino, Calif., and Arnold Hur of Fullerton, Calif., finished with 72. E.J. Kahn of Los Angeles and Drew Exon of Irvine, Calif., shot matching 73s. Brandon Lang of Ramona, Calif., and Robert Nicanor of San Diego also qualified with 73, but are not able to play in this week's event. Christopher K. Lee of Los Angeles, Johnny Mac Arthur of Santa Clarita, Calif., and Robert Garske of Santa Barbara, Calif., all qualified in a six-man playoff.
Carding one-over-par 71s, Maxwell Cohen of Los Angeles, Matthew Ouimet of Coto de Caza, Calif., and Sean Harris of Santa Monica, Calif., all opted to take one AJGA Tournament Exemption in lieu of playing in this week's event. Also opting out of the tournament at 72 were Ryan Sack of Santa Rosa, Calif., Robert DeHuff of Coto de Caza, Calif., Kyle Gyermek of Hidden Hills, Calif., Blake Parker of Placentia, Calif., Kevin Collignon of Las Vegas, and Michael Liu of Tustin, Calif.
Playing in her third Srixon Qualifier, 13-year-old Yang came looking for a winning score. After placing second at her last qualifier, Yang had high hopes for playing on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course.
“I get to play on the Kraft Nabisco course and that gave me a lot of motivation,” she said. “The LPGA pros play there so it's going to feel like I'm a pro too.”
The rising freshman has had a busy week, graduating from middle school on Thursday and heading straight to Mission Hills for the qualifier. Yang didn't let that get in the way of her birdie on No. 13, which helped her shoot par on the back nine and finish with a one-stroke victory.
“I managed to save par in weird places,” she said. “Every time I missed the fairway I saved par.”
In the Girls Division, two more players qualified and are playing in this week's event: Sarah Fox of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Reina Rogers of Oxnard, Calif., shot matching 76s. Victoria Fallgren of Lakewood, Calif., shot a 75 and opted to take one AJGA Tournament Exemption in lieu of playing in this week's event.
SRIXON Sports USA, Inc., based in Norcross, Ga., has been distributing premium golf balls and equipment in the U.S. since 1997 and is a subsidiary of SRI Sports. SRI Sports is one of the world's leading patent holders in golf ball technology and manufactures several golf balls played in the United States. SRI Sports-made balls have won 73 PGA TOUR events since 1989, including seven majors. For more information about SRIXON, please visit www.srixon.com.
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 a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign counties.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
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 Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.
The first round of the Mission Hills Desert Junior will begin Tuesday, June 27 with tee times running from 6:30-8:27 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information on the Mission Hills Desert Junior contact tournament headquarters at (760) 324-9400.