The Real Story Behind the AJGA FootJoy Invitational

Posted by Andy Durham on June 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm under Amateur | Comments are off for this article

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Many of the best junior golfers in the world are set to
play in the 11th annual AJGA FJ Invitational beginning Monday, June 11, 2012
at The Cardinal Golf & Country Club. This year’s tournament boasts one of
the strongest fields in tournament history with the top eight of the top-10
players in the country including the top four according to the most recent
AJGA Polo Golf Rankings. In addition, the field features 15 of the top-25
players and 26 of the top-50 in the nation. The field also includes 10 of
the top-16 golfers in the May 31 Golfweek Junior Boys rankings including
five of the top eight and the top two junior golfers in the country.
Following are pre-tournament notes on the 84-player field for the 2012 FJ
Invitational.

No. 1 Junior in the Country Playing: Shun Yat Hak of China and
Lake Mary, Fla., the No. 1 player in both the AJGA Polo Golf Rankings and
the Golfweek Junior Rankings, will play the FJ Invitational. In the 2008
Hong Kong Open, he broke Sergio Garcia’s record for the youngest player to
make a European Tour cut and tied for 46th. Hak, who goes by Jason,
moved to Florida at age 11. He will be making his third-consecutive
appearance in the FJ Invitational; he finished fifth in 2010 and tied for
24th last year. In February of this year, he won the AJGA HP Boy’s
Championship at The Woodlands, Texas in addition to the 2011 AJGA Rolex
Tournament of Champions, the 2011 AJGA TaylorMade-Adidas Junior, 2009 Mizuno
Junior at Innesbrook and the 2009 AJGA Cliffs Championship. He was named a
Rolex Junior All-American in 2009, 2010 and 11. (first team in 2009 and
11; second team in 2010)

Winner Plays the Wyndham: Since the 2008 FJ Invitational,
Wyndham Championship tournament director Mark Brazil has offered a Wyndham
Championship sponsor$B!G(Bs exemption to the FJ Invitational winner. Last year,
FJ Invitational winner Billy Kennerly shot rounds of 70 and 71 in the
Wyndham to miss the cut by four strokes. 2009 FJ winner Justin Thomas fired
a five-under-par 65 in the first round and a two-over-par 72 in the second
round at the 2009 Wyndham to become the third youngest player in PGA TOUR
history to make a cut. Thomas shot a one-over-par 71 in the third round and
did not advance into the final round finishing tied for 78th. The AJGA will
conduct 95 events in 2012, and the FJ Invitational is one of just two
tournaments at which a PGA TOUR exemption goes to the winner. Previous FJ
winners and their Wyndham results are below:

2008: Cameron Peck, 71-71, missed cut by five
strokes

2009: Justin Thomas, 65-72-71, made cut but missed
Saturday cut finishing T-78

2010: Tanner Kesterson, 72-74, missed cut by nine
strokes

2011: Billy Kennerly, 70-71, missed cut by four
strokes

Top North Carolina Juniors will play: In previous years, North
Carolina junior golfers ranked among the top 25 of the May Carolinas Golf
Association rankings received an invitation to participate in the FJ
Invitational qualifying tournament held the weekend prior to the tournament.
The top-two finishers from that event joined the FJ Invitational field. Due
to conflicts with high school graduation and other end-of-school events,
many of the top 25 were unable to play in the qualifier. This year, the
qualifier has been replaced with the following guaranteed exemptions into
the FJ Invitational: The top-three golfers in the May CGA rankings, the
winner of the NC Junior and the winner of the Carolinas Junior; all five are
confirmed for the 2012 FJ Invitational and listed below. The year of high
school graduation follows the name; CGA junior boy’s rankings are in
parentheses:

Benjamin Griffin, 2014, Chapel Hill (1)
Miller Capps, 2012, Denver(2)
Tanner Owen, 2014, High Point (3)
Stanhope Johnson, 2012,Greensboro (4)
Will Long, 2013, Gastonia (6)
Grayson Murray,2012, Raleigh (27)
Chad Cox, 2012, Charlotte (23)
Thomas Walsh, 2015, High Point (42)

Note: Grayson Murray, Chad Cox and Thomas Walsh qualified for the tournament
on their own but are listed here with the other North Carolina players.

Future ACC Players in the field: Nearly one sixth of the
golfers in the FJ Invitational field have made commitments to play their
college golf in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The 13 players are listed
below with their year of high school graduation and their school. Those
with a (v) have only made verbal commitments.

$B!|(B Anthony Alex, 2013, Florida State (v) $B!|(B Chad Cox, 2012, NC State

$B!|(B Benjamin Griffin, 2014 North Carolina (v) $B!|(B Shun Yat Hak, 2012, Georgia
Tech

$B!|(B Stanhope Johnson, 2012, NC State $B!|(B Kyle Kochevar, 2012,
Virginia

$B!|(B Jake McBride, 2013, NC State (v) $B!|(B Grayson Murray, 2012,
Wake Forest

$B!|(B Tanner Owen, 2014, Wake Forest $B!|(B Michael Pisciotta, 2014,
Georgia Tech (v)

$B!|(B Cody Proveaux, 2012, Clemson $B!|(B Clancy Waugh, 2013, Wake
Forest (v)

$B!|(B Motin Yeung, 2012, Duke University

2011 Rolex Junior Player of the Year will play: Cody Proveaux
from Leesville, S.C. between Columbia and Augusta, Ga. will play the FJ
Invitational this year. The Clemson signee is the No. 4 player in the
current Polo Golf Rankings and No. 9 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. He
finished second in the 2011 FJ Invitational four strokes out of first place
and four strokes away from an exemption to play in the Wyndham Championship.

First Team All Americans: Nine golfers in the FJ Invitational
field were named a first team Rolex Junior All-American: Conner Black,
Humble, Texas; Brad Dalke, McKinney, Texas; Parker Derby, Columbus, Ga.;
Jonathan Garrick, Atherton, Calif.; Shun Yat Hak, Lake Mary, Fla.; Matthew
NeSmith, North August, S.C.; Cody Proveaux, Leesville, S.C.; Scott
Scheffler, Dallas; Motin Yeung, Orlando.

International Players: Thirteen players representing nine
foreign countries are in the FJ Invitational field. Players with foreign
countries in parentheses live in the United States but have a different
country of citizenship: DJ Loypur (Australia), Jin Zhang (China), Taichi
Nabetani (Japan), Henry Davis (Mexico), Diego Gudino (Mexico), Zecheng Dou
(China), Rigel Fernandes (India), Shun Hat Yak (China), Tae Wan Lee (South
Korea), KK Limbhasut (Thailand), Jose Montano (Bolivia), Andy Shim (South
Korea), Motin Yeung (Hong Kong).

New Course – Old Course: The 2012 AJGA FJ Invitational will be
contested at The Cardinal Golf & Country Club this year only. The greens at
the tournament$B!G(Bs home course, Sedgefield Country Club, home of the Wyndham
Championship PGA TOUR event, are currently being converted to Bermudagrass
so the course is closed. The FJ Invitational actually began at The Cardinal
before moving to Forest Oaks Country Club in 2004 and eventually, Sedgefield
in 2008. It is interesting to note that in 2002 when this event was played
at The Cardinal, 2011 Wyndham Championship winner Webb Simpson was the
runner up.

$B”#(B The Cardinal Golf & Country Club: The Cardinal Golf and Country
Club was designed by Pete Dye in 1974 and redesigned by Dye in 2007
providing a longer challenge, yet retaining the Cardinal$B!G(Bs unique and
demanding qualities. The fully restored par 70, 7,002-yard Championship
layout was named $B!H(BBest New Remodeled Course$B!I(B by Golf Digest in 2008. The
Cardinal is home to Cardinal Amateur and has hosted several of North
Carolinas most prestigious golf events. Pete Dye designs are recognized as
some of golf’s finest championship courses; the Cardinal covers more than
140 acres of scenic property and includes two lakes and winding creeks.

$B”#(B 2011 Tournament Recap: Billy Kennerly of Alpharetta, Ga. led
the 2011 FJ Invitational wire-to-wire, tied the FJ Invitational tournament
record with a four-day total score of 11-under-par 269 which was just one
stroke shy of the lowest 72-hole score in AJGA history and cruised to a
four-stroke win. In the process, Kennerly won the much-coveted sponsor$B!G(Bs
exemption into the Wyndham Championship PGA TOUR event. Charlotte$B!G(Bs Chad
Cox tied for fourth place and was the highest-finishing North Carolina
player.

$B”#(B Previous Winners: The AJGA began playing in Greensboro in 1988;
the FJ Invitational was created in 2002 by taking an existing AJGA event for
both boys and girls and creating a boys-only Major event. The 2012
tournament will be the 11th AJGA FJ Invitational, but only nine players have
won the 10 previous tournaments. Previous winners are:

$B!|(B 2002: Steve Han $B!|(B
2003: Brian Harman

$B!|(B 2004: Brian Harman $B!|(B
2005: Daniel Woltman

$B!|(B 2006: Andrew Yun $B!|(B 2007:
Peter Uihlein

$B!|(B 2008: Cameron Peck $B!|(B 2009:
Justin Thomas

$B!|(B 2010: Tanner Kesterston $B!|(B 2011:
Billy Kennerly

Make the cut: Again this year, the FJ Invitational will have a
cut following the third round of play. The top-50 golfers and ties will
advance to the final round. Other AJGA events that utilize a cut make it
after 36 holes, but the FJ uses a 54-hole cut so every player is guaranteed
at least three rounds. Golfers will play in threesomes on Friday, and a tie
after 72 holes will be decided by sudden-death playoff.

Thank You Volunteers: More than 100 people, many of them
Sedgefield Country Club and Cardinal Golf & Country Club members, volunteer
at the FJ Invitational. Primary functions for FJ volunteers are live
scoring, player hydration, pace of play timing, standard bearers and
spotters.

AJGA interns housed at The Cardinal: Each year, AJGA interns
manage tournament operations for all AJGA events nationwide. In Greensboro,
those interns stay with families who live in the Cardinal area.

AJGA alumni: Many of the biggest names in professional golf are
AJGA alumni who have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and
professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 500 victories
on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar,
Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr,
Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.

FJ Invitational Tournament Schedule:

Monday: Morning practice
rounds; Junior-Am Tournament at 1:30

Tuesday: First-round tee times
7 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Second-round tee times 7
a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Thursday: Third-round tee times 7
a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Friday: Final-round tee
times 7 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Awards Ceremony
following play.

The FJ Invitational is set for June 11-15 at The Cardinal Golf & Country
Club. Admission is free. Practice rounds begin Monday morning, June 11
with the AJGA Junior-Am tournament Monday afternoon. Tournament play begins
Tuesday, June 12 and concludes Friday, June 15. For additional information
on the event, please visit www.ajga.org.


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