SIHWAN KIM WINS FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR, JOINS ELITE LIST
Mindy Kim wins Girls Division title, breaks par three consecutive days
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — The 25th anniversary of the Mission Hills Desert Junior concluded Thursday with Sihwan Kim of Buena Park, Calif., successfully defending his title, shooting a final-round 2-under-par 70 to win by six strokes. Mindy Kim of Diamond Bar, Calif., claimed her first AJGA victory by firing a 4-under-par 68 to win the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Mission Hills Desert Junior was played on Mission Hills Country Club's par-72 Dinah Shore Tournament Course. The 54-hole event featured 60 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18, from six states, including 72 players from California.
The longest consecutive running AJGA event at the same venue, the Mission Hills Desert Junior boasts past champions such as Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bob May, 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.
Now a five-time AJGA champion and the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion, Sihwan Kim further solidified his reputation as an elite player by winning this event for the second consecutive year and posting a 12-under-par 204 tournament total in the process.
Kim chipped in twice during his round. The first was for eagle on the 535-yard, par-5 ninth. The second on the 618-yard, par-5 eighteenth gave him a birdie and his second Mission Hills Desert Junior in as many years.
“You always try to make everything,” Kim said, “but it's partly luck.”
On the week, Kim made a staggering total of 16 birdies. With his repeat as Mission Hills Desert Junior Champion, he joins a prestigious breed of golfers to have won this event twice including David Oh, Joel Kribel, and Tiger Woods.
“No word can explain this, only three players have done this,” Kim said. “It means I'm closer to being a professional player.”
Tom Lo of Los Angeles finished second at 6-under-par 210. Tied in third at 3-under-par 213 were Evan Derian of Manhattan Beach, Calif., Michael Jae Woo Im of Fullerton, Calif., and Jeffrey Kang of Los Angeles.
The Girls Division saw first-time AJGA winner Mindy Kim crowned after a 7-under-par 209 tournament total and five-stroke victory. Sixteen-year-old Kim said her win is something she dreamed about as a little girl.
“This is my first win,” Kim said, “but it means a lot to me because it's the home of the Nabisco.”
The next stop for Kim is the Rolex Tournament of Champions, which is being held at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen, Colo., from July 5-9. The event will coincide with her 17th birthday on July 5th.
“I want to be humble,” Kim said, “but I can probably compete with the top-20 girls in the country. It'll be interesting.”
Lizette Salas of Azusa, Calif., finished in second with a 2-under-par 214 total. Jennifer Johnson of Carlsbad, Calif., and Kristen Park of Buena Park, Calif., tied for third with 220 tournament totals.
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.
For more information on the Mission Hills Desert Junior or any other tournament, contact AJGA National Headquarters at (877) 373-2542.