If desert golf fans were paying attention this week, they might have spotted a familiar face winning the NCAA Women’s Division I Individual Title.
Stanford’s Rose Zhang won the title by three strokes, not a margin indicative of how she dominated the tournament in her early rounds. Zhang’s connection to the desert comes from being one of the few talented and now successful junior golfers to have won the ANA Junior Inspiration.
Originally a junior-only tournament in the Southern California region, the one-day, 18-hole event was designed to award the winner a berth in the LPGA Major Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
What no one who ran the tournament, from LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott to the Southern California Golf Association to the American Junior Golf Association, could have predicted that many of these junior winners would go on to qualify for the major championship.
Played from 2012 to 2019, but canceled in 2020 during the CIVD-19 pandemic, the junior tournament produced four players who played on the LPGA and three other players, including Zhang, who look certain to make waves on the women’s tour. .
Although the ANA Junior Inspiration, whatever it’s called, will no longer be played in the desert with the LPGA moving its major to Houston next year, here’s a look at the five most accomplished golfers to win the ANA Junior title. Inspiration in the desert.
Pink Zhang (2018)
At this point, Zhang is the most accomplished winner on this list. Zhang won the ANA Junior title in 2018 while still attending Pacific Academy in Irvine. In 2020, she won the US Women’s Amateur and just a month later was the top ranked amateur in the world. In 2021, she won the US Junior Girls Amateur, becoming the first player to win the Junior Girls title after winning the Women’s Amateur title. And this week, Zhang won the NCAA women’s individual title to cap off her freshman year at Stanford. The question with Zhang is not if she can keep winning, but if she will win as an amateur. or as a professional in the near future.
Alison Lee (2012)
The first Junior Desert event winner, when Alcott, former Chevron Championship winner, started the event with sponsor Fresh & Easy, Lee caused an immediate stir and was a member of two Curtis Cup teams. She attended UCLA but turned pro before completing a second year for the Bruins. She passed the LPGA qualifying school in 2014, and in 2015 she was a member of the US Solheim Cup team in her freshman year. Since then, Lee’s career hasn’t reached some of the same heights, but she remains on the LPGA.
Angel Yin (2013)
Yin is known as one of the longest hitters in the LPGA, but in 2013 she won an event that earned her a spot in what was then known as the Kraft Championship. She was already known in golf having qualified for the US Women’s Open in 2012 when she was 12 years old. Like others, Yin carved out a spot in the LPGA Desert Major the year she won the junior qualifier. She turned professional in 2016 and although she has yet to win on the LPGA, she did claim a victory on the Ladies European Tour at the 2017 Omega Dubai Ladies Classic.
Haley Moore (2015)
Moore, of Escondido, made headlines when she cried on national television thinking she had missed the cut in the middle finger, already renamed ANA Inspiration, only to cry again when she found out that she had made the cut on the number. Moore went on to a strong career at the University of Arizona and helped that team win the NCAA Tag Team Championship in its freshman year, make the decisive putt in the deciding match. After earning LPGA status through the 2019 qualifying school, Moore is trying to regain some status on the LPGA by playing in mini-tours and the Epson Tour development.
Andrea Lee (2016)
Few golfers who have won the Junior Inspiration have been as decorated or heralded as Lee. In fact, she had previously played in the ANA Inspiration in 2015 on a sponsor’s exemption before qualifying for the event again the following year via the Junior Inspiration. She was also the 2014 AJGA Player of the Year and was a member of a Curtis Cup and Junior Solheim Cup team. Lee went to Stanford and won nine individual titles while earning the No. 1 ranking among college golfers in 2019. As a pro, the road has been a little rough for Lee, but now she seems on her way to the LPGA , after winning it. first professional title on the Epson development circuit this year.