Wednesday October 17, 2012
BRASELTON, Ga. – Ariya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, was named the girls’ Rolex Junior Player of the Year for the second year in a row, while Matthew NeSmith of North Augusta, S.C., was named the boys’ Rolex Junior Player of the Year, the American Junior Golf Association announced Wednesday.
Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Rolex Junior Player of the Year award recognizes one boy and one girl who had the most outstanding year in junior golf events at the national level. Past recipients have gone on to become some of the most esteemed players on the PGA and LPGA Tours, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III, Hunter Mahan, Scott Verplank, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Jutanugarn, 16, is the fifth girl to earn Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. She has been No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings since July 2, 2011, and won three junior tournaments in 2012. In all, Jutanugarn has seven national junior golf victories since she began competing in the United States in 2009.
NeSmith, 19, is the second South Carolina native to be named Rolex Junior Player of the Year, one year after Cody Proveaux became the first. He won four of the five individual junior tournaments he played in and spent the final nine weeks of his junior career ranked No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings.
Their accomplishments during the past season will be heralded Nov. 18 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The awards ceremony, dubbed “The Greatest Night in Junior Golf,” will also trumpet the achievements of the rest of golf’s next generation by means of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams, HP Scholastic Junior All-America Teams and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award.