With the first round of match play beginning at the Polo Golf Junior Classic Wednesday, there are several familiar faces and notable matches that promise great golf throughout the morning. The Boys Division brings young talent, while the Girls Division is anchored by many girls who have experienced match play in previous years.
In the Boys Division, the first match of the day off No. 1 on the Champion Course features stroke play medalist Emiliano Grillo. This marks the third consecutive year the Argentinian has medaled at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. In his first attempt, he fell in the first round, but in 2009, advanced to the quarterfinals. Grillo is hoping the third time is truly a charm when it comes to match play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic.
Grillo will match up in the first round against Trey Valentine who is playing in only his second AJGA Invitational. His first was this event last year where he finished T45 and failed to advance to match play.
Grillo is one of only six players returning to match play from 2009. Another veteran is defending champion Oliver Schniederjans, who will go up against Lee McCoy, a junior from Palm Harbor, Fla.
Stephen Behr, Jr., was added as an alternate to the field last year, but had a breakout performance, advancing to the quarterfinals in his first appearance in an AJGA Invitational. There was never a doubt the 2010 Rolex Junior All-American would be invited back, and he has once again earned his place in the match play bracket.
Others advancing to match play for a second year are Jay Hwang, Patrick Rodgers and Motin Yeung (who advanced through a sudden-death playoff).
In a match that pits two first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans, No. 22 seed Beau Hossler will face No. 11 seed and Rolex Junior Player of the Year, Anthony Paolucci.
Another match of note shows two Birmingham, Ala., natives going head to head. No. 18 seed Stewart Jolly of Mountain Brook High School will face No. 15 seed Michael Johnson of Spain Park High School. This will not be the first time the pair has played together and it most certainly won’t be the last as both have committed to continue their golf career with SEC schools. Johnson signed a National Letter of Intent with Auburn, while Jolly signed with LSU during the NCAA’s early signing period.
In the Girls Division, experience is the theme of the day, as 13 players return to the Polo Golf Junior Classic bracket from 2009. Of those 13, Tiffany Lim, Grace Na and Emma Talley advanced to the quarterfinals. Lim fell to finalist Victoria Tanco, while Na was defeated by eventual champion Alexis Thompson.
Though the Polo Golf Junior Classic field features players from 10 foreign countries, one specific country intended to make the most of their trip. Manon Gidali and Celine Boutier, both of France, advanced to match play in convincing fashion, holding the Nos. 4 and 8 seeds, respectively. Joining them is another French player who currently resides in Florida. Shannon Aubert earned the No. 9 seed and could face Boutier in the second round.
Notable players failing to advance include Victoria Tanco, two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year, who missed the cut by one. A.J. Newell, who advanced to the semifinals in 2009, also fell below the cut line. In the Boys Division, Sean Kelly barely missed advancing after falling in a sudden-death playoff. Had he advanced, he would have been paired against Emiliano Grillo, who defeated him 3 and 2 in the second round of 2009.