By Tim Jackman (@AJGAJackman), AJGA Communications
It is no secret that AJGA tournaments are the highest level of junior golf. The tournaments prepare juniors for competing at the next level, which for most players is college golf. A few select juniors however, get the opportunity to have a sneak peak at what the step beyond college golf is like.
There are seven amateurs in the field this weekend for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic presented by CTBC. All seven of those players are AJGA juniors: Kristen Gillman, Jo-Hua Hong, Yu-Sang Hou, Andrea Lee, Mika Liu, Haley Moore and Han-Hsuan Yu. I caught up with three of them to find out what their thoughts are going into possibly the biggest tournament of their lives.
How are you feeling heading into this week?
“I'm very excited to get this week started. It's always an honor being able to play in a professional event and it allows me to compare my game against the best.”
What is your goal for this week?
“Just like every tournament my goal is to win, but I realize that this is a unique opportunity so I plan to learn as much as I can from the professionals.”
Andrea gained an exemption into the event with a five-stroke victory at the 2014 Yani Tseng Invitational presented by the Swinging Skirts.
What does this opportunity mean to you?
“To be able to have this opportunity is incredible. It gives me a chance to show how well I can compete at the professional level.”
Who are you most looking forward to seeing this week?
“It's really cool to be playing alongside some of my role models and learning from them. I'm really looking forward to seeing Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, and some other top professional golfers.”
What is one thing you are excited about this week?
“I had the chance to see my friends, and previous Rolex Junior Players of the Year, Jaye Marie Green, Ariya Jutanugarn and Alison Lee! It's really cool to see them out here with me; it makes me more comfortable knowing that some players that I've played with in the AJGA are out here competing at the professional level.”
Haley had the opportunity to compete in the ANA Inspiration, April 2-5. Not only did she compete, but she was the only amateur to make the cut at the event. This gives her a new respect and excitement for this week.
What was your favorite part of playing in the ANA Inspiration?
“My favorite part was meeting a bunch of players I have seen on TV. Everyone was so nice to me and there was a bunch of supporters. I had the greatest time of my life and it is a week I will never forget.”
What was your biggest takeaway from the event?
“My biggest takeaway was learning from different players, experiencing walking down the 18th hole and walking over the bridge. It was awesome playing with the girls and getting to know them. I really enjoyed getting an idea of what the LPGA Tour is like.”
What is your mindset going into this week’s tournament?
“I may have a little different thought process. Just play safe and try to stay out of trouble, but I want to have fun and enjoy it while it lasts.”