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Jan. 19, 2012

Puerto Rico Junior Open honored with AJGA award

The AJGA will announce two tournament award winners each week leading up to the AJGA's Annual Meeting and the announcement of the Digger Smith Award.

The Puerto Rico Junior Open has been honored with the American Junior Golf Association's 2011 Newcomer of the Year Award for its inaugural event, which took place at Trump International Golf Club, Jan. 14-17, 2011. The AJGA Newcomer of the Year Award honors a first-year tournament that displays the complete tournament experience in its inaugural year.

During its first year on the AJGA schedule, the Puerto Rico Junior Open attracted one of junior golf's strongest fields by offering a PGA TOUR exemption to the Boys Division champion. At the end of the 2011 season, Golfweek ranked the Puerto Rico Junior Open as the 17th strongest field in junior golf, which was tops among AJGA Open tournaments.

"I'm very into amateur golf and I think it's important that we give an opportunity to the youth," said Sidney Wolf, Tournament Chairman and President of the Puerto Rico Golf Association. "It's important because we're building a brand new event on the PGA TOUR and it may take a few years for some of these older boys to get there, but they're going to remember Puerto Rico. We're thrilled to have the junior winner here with us in March."

Newcomer of the Year

Puerto Rico Junior Open

Media AwardANNIKA Invitational
Most Improved AwardJanuary 26
Volunteer AwardFebruary 2
Hospitality AwardFebruary 9

Junior-Am Award

February 16
Invitational of the YearFebruary 16
Charitable Giving AwardFebruary 23
Golf Professional of the YearMarch 1
Tournament of the YearMarch 8
Digger Smith AwardMarch 10

Outside of the competition, legendary Chi Chi Rodriguez spoke to the field during the Players Meeting and conducted a clinic following the first round. His genuine interest in growing the game was evident, as he openly shared stories and advice with the audience.

A strong volunteer base completed the tournament experience. The PRGA provided rules officials to help conduct the championship, and more than 50 volunteers from the Carvin School administered the live scoring, timing stations and shuttles.

"It helps having a good organization and the PRGA has a veteran team, and working with an organization like the AJGA makes it even easier," Wolf said. "The first year was a great experience, this year was fantastic and next year is going to be better."

The 2012 event concluded Monday, Jan. 16, with Edward Figueroa of Naples, Fla., claiming the crown and the sponsor's exemption. Figueroa, 18, will return to the island and make his first PGA TOUR start at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com, March 5-11.

The AJGA annually presents awards to the tournaments with the best individual media coverage, Junior-Am fundraising tournament, charitable giving, volunteer base and hospitality. The AJGA also recognizes its golf professional of the year, most improved event, best Invitational, and overall tournament of the year.

Award winners will accept their awards at the AJGA's Annual Meeting, which will be held March 9-11 at Château Élan Resort in Braselton, Ga.