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Polo Junior begins with lopsided wins by Thorbjornsen, Brinker
Michael Thorbjornsen (USGA photo)
Michael Thorbjornsen (USGA photo)

This week’s junior golf experiment has begun. With a new format, a new calendar slot and a new venue, the AJGA’s Polo Golf Junior Classic looks a lot different, but it still will pit the top juniors against each other in a week of match play.

The field includes 32 boys and 32 girls further divided into eight groupings of four players each to compete in three guaranteed singles matches. Pool play began Tuesday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

Jackson Van Paris of Pinehurst, N.C., defeated Tucker Clark of Phoenix, Arizona, 7 and 6. It was the day’s largest winning margin in either division.

“It felt really good to go out there today and get a win in the first-round,” Van Paris said. “I’m looking forward to the second-round and to the tough competition.”

Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley, Mass., defeated fellow Massachusetts native David Rogers, 4 and 3. Thorbjornsen, who is about to enter his senior year in high school, immediately went 1 down to Rogers but quickly moved to 4 up after a stretch of five pars and one birdie. Thorbjornsen, of course, just finished a U.S. Open run in which he made the cut and played the weekend at Pebble Beach.

On the girls side, Phoebe Brinker of Wilmington, Del., defeated Yoon Min Han of (South Korea) Bradenton, Fla., 6 and 5. Brinker had the largest winning margin in the girls division. Brinker and Han’s rounds both were a little shaky at the start. However, Brinker soon pulled ahead with a string of four birdies to finish the round on the par-4 13th.

Brooke Seay of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Ashley Gilliam of Manchester, Tenn., halved their match after a back-and-forth battle that lasted until the par-3 18th. Throughout the round, Seay and Gilliam stayed neck-and-neck and each had five birdies. Gilliam took the lead with a birdie on the par-4 No. 17, which she followed with a bogey on the final hole to end the match all-square.

“The round was back-and-forth for most of the day,” Seay said. “It was tough competition out there and I’m hoping that I can get a win in the second-round.”

Quotes and details from the AJGA used in this report

First-Round Results

Polo Division – Boys
Michael Thorbjornsen, Wellesley, Mass.(2020), def. David Rogers Needham, Mass. (2019), 4&3
Bo Jin, (China) Encinitas, Calif. (2020), def. Leopoldo Herrera III, (Venezuela) Doral, Fla. (2020), 2&1
Karl Vilips, (Australia) Wesley Chapel, Fla. (2020), def. Jeewon Park, (South Korea) Lake Mary, Fla. (2020), 3&1
Ian Siebers, Bellevue, Wash. (2020), def. Adam Thorp, Canberra, Australia (2019), 1-up
Canon Claycomb, Bowling Green, Ky. (2020), def. Gavin Noble, Ringgold, Ga. (2019), 2-up
Luke Potter, Encinitas, Calif. (2022), def. Drew Salyers, Howard, Ohio (2020), 1-up
Jackson Van Paris, Pinehurst, N.C. (2021), def. Tucker Clark, Phoenix, Ariz. (2020), 7&6
Maxwell Moldovan, Uniontown, Ohio (2020), def. Gordon Sargent, Birmingham, Ala. (2021), 3&1
Trey Bosco, Austin, Texas (2020), def. Stephen Campbell Jr., Richmond, Texas (2020), 2-up
Carson Bacha, York, Pa. (2020), def. Nicholas Dunlap, Greer, S.C. (2022), 2&1
Jay Nimmo, Benton, Ky (2021), def. J. Holland Humphries, Austin, Texas (2021), 5&4
Taehoon Song, (South Korea) Buena Park, Calif. (2020), def. Drew Miller, Memphis, Tenn. (2020), 3&2
Kelly Chinn, Great Falls, Va. (2021), def. Bo Peng, (China) Lake Mary, Fla. (2019), 2&1
Jonathan Griz, Hilton Head Island, S.C. (2022), def. Vishnu Sadagopan, Pearland, Texas (2020), 7&5
Connor Creasy, Abingdon, Va. (2019), def. Andi Xu, (China) San Diego, Calif. (2020), 3&2
Alexander Yang, Carlsbad, Calif. (2021), def. Frankie Harris, Boca Raton, Fla. (2021), 6&4

Liberty Division – Girls Division
Savannah Grewal, (Canada) Mississauga, British Columbia (2020), def. Xin (Cindy) Kou, (China) Windermere, Fla. (2021), 1-up
Megan Furtney, South Elgin, Ill. (2019), def. Caroline Curtis, Richmond, Va. (2019), 3&2
Lucy Li, Redwood Shores, Calif. (2020), def. Grace Ni, Cypress, Texas (2019), 5&4
Camille Boyd, Shanghai, China (2020), def. Catherine Park, Irvine, Calif. (2022), 5&4
Euna Han, (Canada) Coquitlam, British Columbia (2020), def. Bohyun Park, (South Korea) Famers Branch, Texas (2021), 1-up
Christine Wang, Houston, Texas (2020), and Kaleiya Romero, San Jose, Calif. (2020), halved
Rachel Heck, Memphis, Tenn, (2020), and Alice Hodge, Larchmont, N.Y. (2020), halved
Brooke Seay, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (2019), and Ashley Gilliam, Manchester, Tenn. (2019), halved
Brianna Navarrosa, San Diego, Calif. (2020), def. Monet Chun, (Canada) Richmond Hill, Ontario (2019), 4&3
Kailie Vongsaga, Diamond Bar, Calif. (2019), def. Taylor Roberts, Parkland, Fla. (2020), 4&3
Rachel Kuehn, Asheville, N.C. (2019), def. Ty Akabane, Danville, Calif. (2019), 5&3
Megha Ganne, Holmdel, N.J. (2022), def. Anne Chen (Australia) Sugar Land, Texas (2020), 3&2
Therese Warner, Kennewick, Wash. (2019), def. Zoe Antoinette Campos, Valencia, Calif. (2021), 2&1
Amari Avery, Riverside, Calif. (2022), def. Jiarui (Joyce) Jin, (China) Encinitas, Calif. (2021), 2&1
Yu Wen Lu, Shanghai, China (2021), def. Sophie Guo, (China) Orlando, Fla. (2019), 2&1
Phoebe Brinker, Wilmington, Del. (2020), def. Yoon Min Han, (South Korea), Bradenton, Fla. (2021), 6&5

ABOUT THE Polo Junior Classic

Sixty-four top junior golfers will be invited to compete in a round-robin style match play event. Based on the Rolex AJGA Rankings, an equal field of 32 boys (Polo Division) and 32 girls (Liberty Division) will be divided into eight groupings of four players each to compete in three guaranteed singles matches. The top eight Polo Division boys and Liberty Division girls from each group after pool play will advance to single- elimination matches.

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