By Michelle Hantak, AJGA Communications
The 2015 ANNIKA Invitational field features seven of the top 10 girls in the Polo Golf Rankings. Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, South Carolina, Nelly Korda of Bradenton, Florida, Mariel Galdiano of Pearl City, Hawaii, Elizabeth Wang of San Marino, California, Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Florida, Angel Yin of Arcadia, California, and Bailey Tardy of Norcross, Georgia, are Nos. 4-10 in the Polo Golf Rankings. During their AJGA careers, these girls have posted a combined 17 victories and 53 top-five finishes.
With her victory at the 2014 ANNIKA Invitational Europe, Marion Veysseyre of La Chapelle Auzac, France, earned and accepted an invitation to the 2015 ANNNIKA Invitational. The event will be the second AJGA tournament for Veysseyre who also competed at the 2014 Polo Golf Junior Classic.
Participants who have earned exemptions through both the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills and ANNIKA Invitational Europe have played well at the ANNIKA Invitational in the past. Ziyi Wang of Beijing, China, finished T2 at the 2014 ANNIKA Invitational after earning an exemption through the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills. Linnea Strom of Hovas, Sweden, finished T5 at the 2013 ANNIKA Invitational after earning an exemption through her victory at the ANNIKA Invitational Europe.
The 2015 ANNIKA Invitational features a record-breaking number of international competitors as 19 juniors from foreign countries are set to compete at the event. Princess Superal of Dasmarinas City, Philippines, will be making her first AJGA appearance. Superal won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship last year, and is currently No. 15 in the Polo Golf Rankings. Another international player looking to post a strong performance is Alice Jo of Shanghai, China. During Jo’s AJGA career, she has posted one victory and five top-five finishes. She was also the champion of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
Last Time at #AJGAANNIKA
After generating more than 3.6 million Twitter impressions through 570 tweets from 161 contributors, the 2014 ANNIKA Invitational earned the Social Media Award, its fifth AJGA Tournament Award. Top contributors included Annika (@ANNIKA59), the ANNIKA Foundation (@ANNIKA_Fdn), Golf Channel’s Morning Drive (@GCMorningDrive), and Golf Channel host Damon Hack (@damonhackGC). Competitors used social media to thank the AJGA and ANNIKA Foundation for hosting the event, as well as discuss Annika’s advice for being successful on and off the golf course.
More than 35 college coaches attended the 2014 ANNIKA Invitational to watch some of the top female golfers from all over the world. Nearly half of those competing in the 2015 event have signed National Letters of Intent or given a verbal commitment to a Division I college. Those who have not will be looking to impress college coaches in attendance and achieve their dream of playing college golf.
In 2014, the ANNIKA Foundation hosted its inaugural ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M. The field included 34 alumni from the ANNIKA Invitational, ANNIKA Invitational Europe and the ANNIKA Invitational at Mission Hills. The ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M for best collegiate female golfer also made its debut in 2014. Current LPGA Tour rookie and 2012 ANNIKA Invitational champion Alison Lee of Valencia, California, took home the inaugural award.
At the conclusion of the 2014 tournament, Annika appeared on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive to discuss the event and the advice she gives to young female golfers, as well as present the Golf Channel with its Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament award. Back-to-back champion Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, California, was featured in an interview explaining how she was able to defend her title at one of the most competitive junior events in the world.
Through social media, Nicole Morales of South Salem, New York, gave thanks and reflected on what she learned at the ANNIKA Clinic sponsored by Rolex during her three years as a participant. Morales, a freshman at the University of Alabama, posted her best finish at the tournament in 2013 when she took 11th. In addition to Morales, 17 other 2014 ANNIKA Invitational participants graduated and moved on to play college golf. Although Morales will no longer compete at the ANNIKA Invitational, she competed with four other 2014 ANNIKA Invitational alumni at the inaugural ANNIKA Intercollegiate Presented by 3M.