A walk down memory lane – Inaugural JGTA Season in Review

May marked the end of the inaugural JGTA season – a season packed full of historical feats and firsts. As the 2018-2019 JGTA season rapidly approaches, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

2017 JGTA Bintan Lagoon Junior Championship presented by dwell Student Living

The weather was warm, and for the first time in history, AJGA members in Asia were teeing it up to compete on the Junior Golf Tour of Asia. Bintan Lagoon Resort’s Jack Nicklaus Sea-View Course proved difficult as the wind howled off of the South China Sea.

Camille Boyd (2020) of (USA) Shanghai, China came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. She posted a first-round even-par score of 72 and took a four-shot lead heading into the second round. Singapore’s Austin Tan (2021) was the low scorer in the Boy’s Division after firing a first round of three-over-par 75. Four players were within four shots of the lead heading into the second round.

The wind picked up even more on moving day, and scores raised as a result. Boyd shot a second-round two-over-par 74 and separated herself further from the pack. Tan shot a second-round five-over-par 77 and his lead shrunk to just two shots over Thailand’s Conor Kelly (2019) and Un Ning (2020) of Macau.

Boyd remained stable in the final round, firing an even-par 72 to extend her lead to 11 strokes over second-place finisher Annie Sun (2019) of (Canada) Beijing, China. With her win, Boyd will forever be the first girls JGTA Champion. Jiakun Li (2019) of Shanghai, China sat three shots back heading into the final round. He came roaring back, firing a JGTA record low score of six-under-par 66 and took home the JGTA Bintan Lagoon Junior Championship presented by dwell Student Living trophy.

JGTA Taiwan Junior Championship

The first ever JGTA Junior Pro-Am kicked off the JGTA Taiwan Junior Championship that took place January 2-5 at NGCC in Miaoli County, Taiwan. Players from nine countries made their way to Taiwan to compete in arguably the strongest field of the JGTA’s inaugural season. Five players competing had Fully Exempt AJGA Status and one AJGA Champion was present.

One thing was made clear as the first round of play was wrapping up…the best juniors from Taiwan meant business and showed up in masses. Ting Yu Chen (2019) Taoyuan, Taiwan, and Chih Yi Huang (2019) of Taoyuan, Taiwan lead the way firing first round scores of one-under-par 71. In total, five players from Taiwan shot 73 or better in the opening round in the Boy’s Division. On the Girl’s side, Jana Ni (2021) of Beijing, China and Natachanok Tunwannarux (2023) of Bangkok, Thailand came out firing scores of even-par 72.

Junyi Tang (2021) of Beijing, China, and Willy Chen (2022) of Taipei, Taiwan shot scores of even par on moving day. Chen was headed into the final round with a one-stroke lead over Tang and first-round leader Ting Yu Chen. Jana Ni and Natachanok Tunwannarux again shot mirroring scores, this time of 76. At this point we knew, it would be a shootout to the finish in the final round.

The weather turned ominous in the final round and players were clawing their way to the finish line, trying to grind out the best score that they could as the rain didn’t seem to want to let up. Junyi Tang entered the clubhouse in the second to last group with a score of 74. He did not think that this would get him the victory, but his score stood the test, and he was crowned champion by one stroke over Willy Chen. Chen fired a final round 76. Jana Ni and Natachanok Tunwannarux were neck and neck through the front nine. As the rain picked up Tunwannarux started to fall behind Ni. Ni tapped her put in on 18 to secure a final round score of 74, and the JGTA Taiwan Junior Championship title. Tunwannarux and University of Washington Commit Jingfan Deng (2020) of Shanghai, China finished T2.

JGTA Phuket Junior Open

The JGTA Phuket Junior Open that took place May 8-11 at Laguna Golf Phuket was for all of the marbles. Players’ final standing on the JGTA Junior Order of Merit determined AJGA PBE Status earned and All-Asia Team Honors. Multiple JGTA Champions were in the field and players were on the cusp of the finish line.

In the first round of the JGTA Phuket Junior Open Camille Boyd (2020) of (USA) Shanghai, China posted a one-under score of 70. This was her lowest score of the season thus far and it put her three strokes ahead of Phuket, Thailand local Surapa Janthamunee (2021). Willy Chen (2022) of Taipei, Taiwan led the Boy’s Division after firing the lowest score of his JGTA career, two-under 69. Five players shot scores of even-par 71 including Conor Kelly (2019) of Bangkok, Thailand, Pongsapak Laopakdee (2023) of Rayong, Thailand, Tiny Yu Chen (2019) of Taoyuan, Taiwan, Chia Yin Yeh (2021) of Taoyuan, Taiwan, and Chih Yi Huang (2019) of Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Boyd followed up her first round of 70 with a score of even-par 71 on moving day. She played it safe throughout the round and sat on a 3-shot lead over Natatachanok Tunwannarux heading into the final round. Tunwannarux posted a one-under-par score of 70 and was on a mission to make a comeback. Janthamunee shot another score of two-over-par 73 sat five shots behind Boyd heading into the final round. Seeming to come out of nowhere in the Boy’s Division, Bhitchayoot Sima-Aree (2019) of Nonthaburi, Thailand fired a second-round score of 5-under-par 66 and tied the JGTA’s low score record. YuYu Chen (2022) of Taoyuan, Taiwan followed up his first-round score of 74 with a three-under-par 68.

In the final round, Tunwannarux made a seemingly impossible put on hole 16 to force a two-shot swing between her and Boyd. Tunwannarux would go on to shoot a final-round score of two-under-69 and was crowned champion of the JGTA Phuket Junior Open. On the Boy’s side, Sima-Aree had a two-foot putt on 18 to win. The putt lipped out and for the first time in JGTA history, a sudden-death playoff was in order. Sima-Aree and Yu Yu Chen were tied through 54 holes in regulation. They went shot for shot until they got to the green on the second playoff hole. 65+ attendees watched on as Sima-Aree sunk his put to secure his first JGTA victory.