A walk-off eagle earns Ashleen Kaur the ANNIKA Invitational title
Ashleen Kaur with Annika Sorenstam (ANNIKA/AJGA photo)
One thing's for sure about the ANNIKA Invitational, it certainly doesn't lack for dramatic endings.
With 72 of the top female junior golfers in the world, including 16 of the top 25 girls in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, vying for one of junior golf's most coveted titles at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., fireworks and scintillating finishes are the norm rather than the exception.
Such was the case on Tuesday when Ashleen Kaur, Katie Li
and Alice Ziyi Zhao
staged a memorable back nine duel that wasn't settled until the final hole when Kaur eagled the par 5 18th to earn a one-stroke victory.
Zhao, a 13-year-old who earned co-medalist honors
at last summer's U.S. Women's Amateur at Chambers Bay, took a one-shot lead into the final round and increased her lead to two at the turn after a run of three consecutive birdies on holes 6-8.
But with three holes remaining, Kaur found herself tied with Duke commit and four-time Rolex Junior All-American Katie Li at 14-under while Zhao was just one back.
Zhao gained a share of the lead with a birdie on 16 but when she and Kaur both made bogeys on the 17th, Li stood on the 18th tee box with a one-stroke lead.
After using her length to reach the 489-yard 18th in two, Kaur drained her 40-foot putt for an eagle and a final round of 69 to take the title. Her 54-hole score of 14-under 204 established a new tournament scoring record by three strokes and gave her a one-stroke win over Li and Zhao.
"It means a lot to compete in this event hosted by Annika," said Kaur, who was making her first start at the ANNIKA Invitational. "She was a huge inspiration to me growing up so getting to compete here and win it is incredible."
Last year, Yana Wilson holed out a 75-yard wedge shot on the 18th hole
for an eagle to defeat Anna Davis on the first playoff hole. Davis rebounded nicely by winning the Augusta National Women's Invitational
three months later while Wilson captured the U.S. Girls' Junior
title in July.
This is Kaur's first invitational win and second AJGA win. She also took home the 2022 C.T. Pan Junior Championship in her hometown of Houston.
With the victory, Kaur, a Baylor commit, qualified to participate in the amateur field of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions this week at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Fla.
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ABOUT THE ANNIKA Invitational
Conducted by the American Junior Golf
Association, the ANNIKA Invitational is a 54-hole
stroke play competition featuring 72 girls, ages
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