SIMIN FENG WINS INAUGURAL ANNIKA INVITATIONAL
13-year-old gets best of international field
REUNION, Fla. — Simin Feng, 13, of Orlando, Fla., dueled hefty wind conditions and stiff competition at Ginn Reunion Resort's Watson Course to claim the inaugural ANNIKA Invitational. Sarah Brown of Phillipsburg, N.J., and Luz Alejandra Cangrejo of Bogota, Colombia, ended the day one stroke behind and tied for second.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the ANNIKA Invitational was a 54-hole stroke play event played at Ginn Reunion Resort, home of the ANNIKA Academy. The girls-only field played the par-72 Independence (Watson) Course at 6,450 yards. The 60-player field featured 17 Rolex Junior All-Americans and players from 17 states and 15 foreign countries.
Trailing by one shot heading into final-round play, Feng flip-flopped the lead with first-round leader Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla. Shooting a final round of 1-over-par 73, Simin carded two birdies en route to victory. After Cindy Feng double-bogeyed No. 5, Simin said her confidence grew.
“Playing so close, I was nervous all day. After Cindy made that double on No. 5, I was less nervous,” Simin said. “I took the lead and knew things would be fine if I just played my game.”
After 13 holes, four players were tied atop the leaderboard. Laetitia Beck of Caesarea, Isreal, and Cangrejo found themselves in contention with front-side finishes of 1-over-par 36 and 1-under-par 35, respectively. Bogeys by Beck and Cindy at No. 15 put Simin and Cangrejo in a head-to-head match through the next three holes.
Cangrejo, who was playing in the group ahead of Simin, made bogey at the par-5 17th, which put Simin one up heading to No. 18.
“Heading into No. 18, I just wanted to hit my drive straight,” Simin said. “ I thought I would get into a playoff with just a par.”
Cangrejo bogeyed the final hole, which gave Simin a two-shot cushion as she stood on the No. 18 tee. Unaware of Cangrejo's bogey, Simin walked off the 18th green disappointed after three-putting for bogey. It wasn't until Annika informed Simin on her walk to the scoring tent that she realized she won.
“It means a lot to win this tournament,” Simin said. “Annika is going to hand me the trophy and she has accomplished so much, it's such an honor.”
Tied for second were Brown and Cangrejo with three-day totals of 5-over-par 221. Tied for fourth, with three-day totals of 6-over-par 222, were Cindy Feng and Beck.
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 Foundation 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.