WATSON CARDS TWO-UNDER PAR 70, GRABS TWO-STROKE LEAD AT ANNIKA INVITATIONAL
Three players tied for second at even-par 72
REUNION, Fla. — In just her second event after knee surgery, Sally Watson of Edinburgh, Scotland, staved off cool conditions and some competitive rust to card a 2-under-par 70, the day's only sub-par round, in Saturday's first round at the inaugural ANNIKA Invitational. Three players sit two shots back at even-par 72 entering the second round at Ginn Reunion Resort's Independence (Watson) Course.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the ANNIKA Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event being played at Ginn Reunion Resort, home of the ANNIKA Academy. The girls-only field is playing the par-72 Independence (Watson) Course at 6,450 yards. The 60-player field features 17 Rolex Junior All-Americans and players from 17 states and 15 foreign countries.
Watson played in the Polo Golf Junior Classic last November, which was also held at Ginn Reunion Resort, but said that this event has been her main goal ever since having knee surgery six months ago. She missed the 36-hole cut in November, but returned to Ginn Reunion Resort this week knowing that this was the tournament she had been working toward.
“I really had no expectations coming here after not playing tournaments for so long,” said Watson, who had the ACL in her right knee reconstructed in June 2008. “I wanted to give myself as many tap-in pars as possible and just get comfortable competing again.”
Watson said she played more aggressive after a conservative 36 on the front nine, and it paid off with birdies on Nos. 10, 13, 14 and 15. She closed with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, but a par on No. 18 secured her two-shot cushion heading into Sunday's second round.
“I was really happy with my game today,” said Watson, who has signed a National Letter of Intent with Stanford. “I've worked really hard the last three or four months since I got back from my knee surgery, and I'm happy that I was able to put everything together today.”
Yueer Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla., was the final alternate that made the field and is playing in her first AJGA Invitational. She carded six birdies en route to an opening-round 72. Also in second place are Rachel Rohanna of Waynesburg, Pa., who has signed a National Letter of Intent with Ohio State, and 13-year-old and two-time AJGA winner Simin Feng of Orlando, Fla.
After the round, Annika hosted a clinic for the tournament field. More than 100 spectators attended to watch and learn from one of the best golfers of all time.
“I'm very proud to put my name on an event like this,” said Annika, who is the Tournament Chair. “It wasn't that long ago that I was there and I know how they feel and I know what their goals are. It gives me satisfaction to give back to something that I care about.”
Second-round tee-times will run from 8-11:10 a.m. off the No. 1 tee at Ginn Reunion Resort's Independence (Watson) Course. For more information about the ANNIKA Invitational, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (407) 662-0673.
About the AJGA
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 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries.
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 AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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.
The ANNIKA provides inspiration to children in need through critical financial, physical, and emotional support, and also helps aspiring junior golfers follow their dreams through scholarships, education, and new playing opportunities.
Annika is the greatest female golfer of our generation and often regarded as the best player in LPGA history. Her prestigious list of accomplishments includes her 2003 induction into the World Golf and LPGA Halls of Fame, ten Major Championships, 88 worldwide professional victories, eight LPGA Player of the Year Awards and participation on eight Solheim Cup teams. In June 2008, Annika was named a USGA Ambassador. Annika has worked hard on her off-the-course businesses, which include the ANNIKA Academy, the ANNIKA Foundation, the ANNIKA Collection with Cutter & Buck, ANNIKA Financial Group, numerous golf course design projects, tournaments she hosts, along with her website and blog. New projects include an ANNIKA fragrance and wine, both launching in May 2009.