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Sep. 23, 2013

Preview: Junior All-Star champions headline field

Over Columbus Day weekend, 72 of the nation’s top junior golfers ages 12-15, many of whom have found success in Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series events, AJGA Opens and Invitationals, will compete at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla., for the 2013 Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF.

The American Junior Golf Association created Junior All-Star series events in 1998. The series, designed specifically for the 12-15-year-old members, gives younger players more opportunities to play competitive junior golf. In 2000, the AJGA hosted the first Junior All-Star Championship, a series-ending event featuring many Junior All-Star series champions.

In the last 15 years of Junior All-Star events, AJGA alumni such as Rickie Fowler, Peter Uihlein, Vicky Hurst and Jordan Spieth have competed in the series. In addition to these series alumni, take a look at the list of past champions of the Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF, many of whom now find their names near the tops of professional tours all over the world.

Daniel Im of Irvine, Calif., won the first Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF in 2000. Fifteen years old at the time, Im went on to win two more AJGA events, recorded twelve top-10 finishes and was named a first-team Rolex Junior All-American in both 2002 and 2003. Im played college golf at UCLA where, in 2006, he became the sixth UCLA golfer to win the Pac-10 title. During his first professional season in 2008, Im was named Canadian Golf Tour International Rookie of the Year, a year that included his first professional win at his first event, the Riviera Maya Classic.

In 2004, Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., took home her first AJGA victory in a Junior All-Star series event, the Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces, where she recorded a 14-stroke victory. Later that year, Karle won the Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF. In addition to her two Junior All-Star series victories, Karle took home four more AJGA titles and was named a first-team Rolex Junior All-American in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Following her successful AJGA career, Karle played college golf at Pepperdine where she was named the 2008 West Coast Conference Player of the Year. After 12 wins on The Cactus Tour, Karle completed her rookie season on the Symetra Tour in 2013.

Much like Karle the year before, Bud Cauley of Jacksonville, Fla., won his first AJGA event at a Junior All-Star series tournament, the 2005 Nike Golf Junior at Jacksonville, and finished the season with a victory at the Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF. Following a junior career that included a third victory and honors as a two-time first-team Rolex Junior All-American, Cauley continued his golf career at the University of Alabama. In 2009, Cauley was named SEC Freshman of the Year and helped the United States to a win at the 2009 Walker Cup at Merion Golf Club. Cauley made his PGA TOUR debut in 2012 and is ranked No. 159 in the World Golf Rankings.

A win at the 2008 Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF capped a season that included five additional titles for Yueer Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla. Feng’s six wins in 2008 put her second in the AJGA Girls Record Book for most individual victories in a year. Feng recorded four more AJGA titles since her record-defining year, including back-to-back victories at one of the AJGA’s most prestigious Invitationals, the Thunderbird International Junior. A 2014 graduate, Feng is currently No. 5 in the Polo Golf Rankings.

Im, Karle, Cauley and Feng are just four of many successful AJGA alumni that have found success at the Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF. We will have to wait until October to find out who will join the ranks of these past champions, but as history alludes to, success here is just the start.

Learn more about the Junior All-Star Invitational sponsored by NIKEGOLF and join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting @AJGAGolf and @NIKEGOLF and using the hashtag #JASInv.