U.S. GIRLS' JUNIOR
U.S. Girls' Junior: Inside the Field
July 21, 2017 | AUGUSTA, MO.
By Vanessa Zink, USGA
A look at the 156 competitors in the 2017 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.
The average age of the 156 U.S. Girls’ Junior competitors is 16.2 years old.
Izzy Pellot, 12, of Altamonte Springs, Fla., is the championship’s youngest competitor. She is nine days younger than Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Fla. They are the only 12-year-olds in the field.
The championship’s oldest competitor is Shelby Brauckmuller, of Auburndale, Fla. She will turn 19 on Aug. 7.
There are 12 countries represented in the championship: Australia (2), Brazil (1), Canada (9), Chinese Taipei (6), Japan (2), Malaysia (1), Mexico (3), People’s Republic of China (8), Philippines (5), Republic of Korea (5), Thailand (3) and the United States of America (111).
With 24 players, California is the most represented state. Florida and Texas are next with 13 each.
There is one USGA champion in the field: Mika Liu, 18, of Beverly Hills, Calif. (2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with Rinko Mitsunaga)
There is one USGA runner-up in the field: Brianna Navarrosa, 15, of San Diego, Calif. (2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with Angelina Kim)
Nineteen players are in the top 500 of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ as of July 19:
- No. 21 – Haley Moore, 18, of Escondido, Calif.
- No. 32 – Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, 17, of Thailand
- No. 42 – Mika Liu
- No. 48 – Yujeong Son, 16, of the Republic of Korea
- No. 50 – Esther Subin Lee, 18, of Brazil
- No. 62 – Ya-Chun Chang, 16, of Chinese Taipei
- No. 101 – Jennifer Chang, 17, of Cary, N.C.
- No. 108 – Yu-Sang Hou, 18, of Chinese Taipei
- No. 206 – Youngin Chun, 17, of the Republic of Korea
- No. 210 – Alexa Pano
- No. 273 – Lois Kaye Go, 18, of the Philippines
- No. 353 – Michaela Morard, 15, of Huntsville, Ala.
- No. 371 – Tze-Han Lin, 17, of Chinese Taipei
- No. 399 – Erica Shepherd, 16, of Greenwood, Ind.
- No. 413 – Calista Reyes, 17, of the Philippines
- No. 414 – Lucy Li, 14, of Redwood Shores, Calif.
- No. 420 – Lei Ye, 16, of the People’s Republic of China
- No. 425 – Ruqing Guan, 17, of the People’s Republic of China
- No. 441 – Han Hsuan Yu, 17, of Chinese Taipei
Twenty-one U.S. Girls’ Junior competitors played in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Four of those two-player teams made this field (second player in bold):
- Macy Fox, 15, of Austin, Texas, with partner Chandler Rosholt, 17, of Cedar Park, Texas (lost in Round of 32)
- Julia Gregg with partner Trinity King, 15, of Arlington, Texas (missed cut)
- Annick Haczkiewicz, 17, of Las Vegas, Nev., with partner Sydney Smith, 17, of Las Vegas, Nev. (quarterfinalists)
- Nicole Whiston, 16, with partner Waverly Whiston, 17, of San Diego, Calif. (lost in Round of 32)
There are two sets of sisters in the field:
- Alice and Caroline Hodge, of Larchmont, N.Y., are 14 and 16 years old, respectively. They both qualified from the Fairfield, Conn., qualifying site.
- Nicole and Waverly Whiston who reached the quarterfinals of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball as a pairing. The Whiston sisters also competed in the 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Mika Liu, 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball co-champion from Beverly Hills, Calif., is playing in her seventh U.S. Girls’ Junior, which ties Megan Khang (2009-15) and Margot Morton (1954-60) for most appearances in the championship. She earned an exemption from qualifying for being a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team and her top 75 placement in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (she’s currently No. 42).
General Player Notes
Lauren Beaudreau, 16, of Lemont, Ill., won the 2016 Girls’ Junior North & South Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club on her 15th birthday. She qualified for match play in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur. When she’s not playing golf, she enjoys playing classical pieces on the piano, a talent she began developing at age 4.
Claire Cameron, 18, of Martinsville, Ind., is playing in her fourth U.S. Girls’ Junior (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017). She won the Indiana Girls’ Junior State Championship at 14, the youngest champion.
Jennifer Chang, 17, of Cary, N.C., is playing in her fourth USGA championship. The 2015 North Carolina Girls’ Player of the Year, she played in her first USGA championship – the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links – at age 13. She is verbally committed to play for the University of Southern California in the fall of 2018.
Jennifer Cleary, 15, of Wilmington, Del., was born on Sept. 11, 2001. She has been a member of back-to-back state championship soccer teams and is a state-champion squash player. Playing in her second U.S. Girls’ Junior, she first qualified in 2015, when she missed the cut for match play.
Maisie Filler, 16, of Bloomfield, Conn., registered for PGA Junior League Golf at age 13 and attributes her love of the game to the program, saying, “The league made golf fun for me, and made me want to play nonstop.” The 2016 Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic champion in the girls’ 14-15 age group is playing in her first USGA championship. Her older sister, Nathalie, played in the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Mikhaela Fortuna, 16, of the Philippines, won the 2014 U.S. Kids Teen World Championship at Pinehurst Resort and the 2015 Jack Nicklaus Junior Championship in China. In 2015, she received the Tony Siddayao Award, given by the Philippine Sportswriters Association to the most promising young athletes in each sport.
Macy Fox, 15, of Austin, Texas, is playing in her third consecutive U.S. Girls’ Junior. She is an avid hunter, especially deer, and considers herself an excellent marksman.
Ashley Gilliam, 16, of Manchester, Tenn., won the 2017 Tennessee Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship. Her mom, Jennifer, also won the event twice, and Ashley credits her as a big influence on her game. Ashley has verbally committed to attend Mississippi State, where she plans to study meteorology.
Lois Kaye Go, 18, of the Philippines, will play for the University of South Carolina starting in the fall of 2017 after transferring from Boston College, where she was a 2017 All-ACC selection and named Boston College Athletics Rookie of the Year. She is playing in her third consecutive U.S. Girls’ Junior, having made the cut in both 2015 and 2016. Go also qualified for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Morgan Goldstein, 16, of Las Vegas, Nev., won the 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National with a perfect score of 30. She has played in two U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championships (2015, 2017) and is playing in her second U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and first since 2015. Her brother, Aidan, played in the 2014 DCP Championship, and her mom, Karri, is a breast cancer survivor who loves spending time on the golf course with her children.
Kendall Griffin, 18, of Sebring, Fla., is playing in her seventh USGA championship, and third U.S. Girls’ Junior. Her best U.S. Girls’ Junior finish was in 2016 when she made it to the quarterfinal round. She will begin her freshman year at Louisiana State University this fall. In May, she advanced the semifinals of the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball with future LSU teammate Kathleen Gallagher.
Annick Haczkiewicz, 17, of Las Vegas, Nev., is a former competitive Latin ballroom dancer who has verbally committed to attend Brigham Young University in 2018. Her parents, Marek and Ursula, are acrobats for Cirque du Soleil. She and partner Sydney Smith, who is also from Las Vegas and playing in the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior, made it to the quarterfinals of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
Yu-Sang Hou, 18, of Chinese Taipei, competed in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open and made the cut in the 2015 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
Belinda Hu, 17, of San Ramon, Calif., plays for Harvard University, where she has an anticipated graduation date of 2021. Playing in her third consecutive U.S. Girls’ Junior, she is passionate about living a natural, plant-based and non-toxic lifestyle. She won two American Junior Golf Association events in 2016 – Killington and Junior at the Ranch. Her heritage is Chinese, and her Chinese name is Jie Ning, which is why her parents gave her a middle name of “Janine.”
SoWhi (Sophie) Kang, 17, of the Republic of Korea, earned the lone spot from the Koloa, Hawaii, qualifier for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open. Born with natural spondylolysis and spinal curvature, she has to train her back muscles and abdominals so they can sustain the heavy load of a golf swing. Due to this, she works out more than she hits golf balls during her practice sessions. She has won two Korean Junior Golf Association national championships – Korea Sports Cho-Sun (2015) and the Korea Kyung-Nam (2016). Her father, Sung-Woo, is a former professional baseball player who coaches the professional Korean Team. Her mother, Gang Hee, is a former professional basketball player, and her sister, Suh Jin, is a model.
Rachel Kuehn, 16, of Asheville, N.C., is the daughter of 1996 and 1998 USA Curtis Cup Team member and 1995 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up Brenda Corrie-Kuehn. Brenda played in nine U.S. Women’s Opens and 13 U.S. Women’s Amateurs, including the 2001 Women’s Open, while she was eight months pregnant with Rachel. Rachel, who is also a competitive tennis player, has verbally committed to attend Brenda’s alma mater, Wake Forest.
Lucy Li, 14, of Redwood Shores, Calif., qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, becoming the youngest qualifier in history at 11 years, 8 months and 19 days old. She became the youngest competitor in U.S. Women’s Amateur history in 2013 at 10, a month after she became the youngest competitor in history to advance to match play in a USGA championship, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. This will be her third U.S. Girls’ Junior, following appearances in 2015 and 2016 where she made it to the Rounds of 32 and 16, respectively. A self-proclaimed fashionista who has made her own Halloween costumes since she was 7, Li earned low-amateur honors in the 2017 ANA Inspiration.
Mika Liu, 18, of Beverly Hills, Calif., won the 2014 Women’s Western Amateur and Southern Amateur championships, 2015 Thunderbird International and 2016 South Atlantic Women’s Amateur, known as “The Sally.” Also in 2015, she received an exemption into the 2015 ANA Inspiration and won the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes, with partner Rinko Mitsunaga. She is playing in her 12th USGA championship and record-tying seventh U.S. Girls’ Junior, where her best finish is the quarterfinals in 2015. She will play in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur, her fourth appearance in the championship, in August. A member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team and a graduate of IMG Academy, she will play for Stanford University in the fall of 2017.
Haley Moore, 18, of Escondido, Calif., graduated high school a year early to attend the University of Arizona, and finished tied for second individually in the 2016 NCAA Championship. She was the lone amateur to make the cut in the 2015 ANA Inspiration.
Michaela Morard, 15, of Huntsville, Ala., is a two-time Alabama Golf Association Girls’ Junior Amateur champion (2015 and 2017), and won the 2016 Alabama Women’s Amateur Stroke-Play Championship at age 14 to become the youngest winner in the championship’s 67-year history. A three-time American Junior Golf Association Rolex Junior All-American, she has also won three AJGA events. She also plays high school softball as well as the violin and flute. She represented Alabama in the 2015 USGA Women's State Team.
Elle Nachmann, 14, of Boca Raton, Fla., has won three American Junior Golf Association tournaments, including two when she was 12 years old, the youngest to do so. Her mother, Luanne Spadea-Nachmann, played tennis at Duke and her uncle, Vince Spadea, played professional tennis and ranked as high as No. 18 in 2005. In 2017, she won the Florida State Four-Ball with Dana Williams.
Brianna Navarossa, 15, of San Diego, Calif., was runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with partner Angelina Kim, both of whom were 13 years old. She won the 2016 Girls’ Junior America’s Cup and played for the USA Team in the Evian Junior Championship, where she finished third. She has 10 top-10 American Junior Golf Association finishes, including a win in January 2017, and was selected to the 2016 ACDS Junior All-Star team. Her parents, Ann and Anthony, are both from the Philippines and met in Southern California, where Brianna was born.
Lauryn Nguyen, 14, of Seattle, Wash., is a first-generation American whose parents are Vietnamese refugees. She won the Washington Junior Golf Association Eastern Open in 2016 and 2017, and won the 2015 WJGA State Championship. She is allergic to Pacific Northwest trees and grass. Some of her best golf memories include watching Tiger Woods in the 2009 U.S. Open and Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson in the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Alexa Pano, 12, of Lake Worth, Fla., is the championship’s youngest competitor, and at 11 was the youngest competitor to play in an LPGA of Japan Tour event – the 2016 Yonex Ladies Golf Tournament. An eight-time winner of the IMG Junior World Championship and two-time Drive, Chip and Putt champion (2016 and 2017), she will play in her second U.S. Women’s Amateur in August. In January, she led the South Atlantic Women’s Amateur (The Sally) heading into her final nine holes, and finished tied for third in the prestigious event. She loves watching football.
Pinya Pipatjarasgit, 16, of Sylvania, Ohio, has a passion for music, particularly singing, violin and piano. She has performed the national anthem at local sporting events for the University of Toledo and the Toledo Mud Hens. In 2015, she performed at Carnegie Hall with her school’s choir. Her family heritage is Thai, and they have hosted LPGA players Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, when the LPGA plays at her home course – Highland Meadows Golf Club. She cites the sisters as having a positive influence on her career. Ariya gave her a bracelet with the Thai flag a few years ago that Pinya now wears every time she plays for good luck. She is playing in her first USGA championship.
Calista Reyes, 17, of the Philippines, is playing in her fourth consecutive U.S. Girls’ Junior. She was a first alternate for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and will play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August. Her best U.S. Girls’ Junior finish is making the Round of 32 in 2016. When facing a challenging situation on the course, she pretends to play the piano with her toes to refocus and relax. She has lived in the United States since she was 5 years old, and currently resides in San Diego, Calif.
Karah Sanford, 15, of Escondido, Calif., was the youngest player in the field in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. In April 2016, she made the cut in the LPGA Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. Sanford was diagnosed with scoliosis at 10 years old. She advanced to the National Finals of the inaugural Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship in 2014.
Brooke Seay, 16, of Rancho Sante Fe, Calif., hit the ceremonial first tee shot at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in 2013. She is playing in her fourth U.S. Girls’ Junior after earning an exemption by returning a 72-hole score from the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, where she finished in a tie for 60th place.
Erica Shepherd, 16, of Greenwood, Ind., competed in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle and is a two-time Indiana Girls’ Junior champion. In 2016, she played with two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Betsy King. Her middle name is Leigh in honor of family friend and 1998 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Leigh Anne Hardin. The left-hander is verbally committed to Duke University. She is playing in her fifth USGA championship, and she has qualified for next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, her second.
Emily Snelling, 18, of Clear Lake, Iowa, won three consecutive Iowa state high school titles. She won the 2017 championship just two months after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL. Playing in her first USGA championship, she also enjoys playing basketball and volleyball.
Yujeong Son, 16, of the Republic of Korea, is playing in her third consecutive U.S. Girls’ Junior. In 2015, she reached the Round of 16, and in 2016, she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Eun Jeong Seong, who also won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Ellie Szeryk, 15, of Canada, has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship and resides in Allen, Texas. Her older sister, Maddie, played in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open.
Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, 17, of Thailand, played in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open. The 2016 American Junior Golf Association Rolex Tournament of Champions winner, she was named the 2016 AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year. She is No. 32 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Waverly Whiston, 17, of San Diego, Calif., was a quarterfinalist in the 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior. She has committed to attend the University of Tennessee in the fall of 2017. Her sister, Nicole, 16, is also in this year’s field. In 2016, Nicole lost in the Round of 64 to Hye-Jin Choi, who recently finished second in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, the best finish by an amateur since 2005.
Ally Williams, 16, of Athens, Ala., is a Level 8 gymnast who is playing in her first USGA championship. She has been a competitive gymnast since age 6, and is a skilled pianist.
Samantha Yi, 17, of San Diego, Calif., was born in the Republic of Korea. A former competitive swimmer, she serves as the opinions editor for her school newspaper. She is playing in her second USGA championship following the 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior.