If the AJGA's Rolex Players of the Year are any indication, junior golf is only getting better
Philip Barbaree and Hannah O’Sullivan with their trophies for winning the Rolex Tournament of Champions in June (*Photo courtesy of the AJGA*).
It was good form for AJGA officials to wait until this morning -- allowing the 2015 season to formally wrap up -- before naming Philip Barbaree and Hannah O’Sullivan their Rolex Junior Players of the Year. That said, they could just as easily have handed out the honors in August, when both 17-year-olds had essentially wrapped up the awards after two of the more dominant junior seasons in recent memory.
For the second straight year the boys winner is from Shreveport, La., Barbaree following in the footsteps of 2014 honoree Sam Burns, whom he’ll also join on the LSU men’s golf team next fall.
Barbaree showed prowess in both stroke and match play. In June, he won the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions by 14 strokes. His 24-under total at the Crosswater Course at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort was three strokes better than the tournament record set in 2014 by Burns, who had broken the previous tournament record by nine strokes himself. Less than a month later, Barbaree overcame a 5-down deficit in the championship match against Andrew Orischak at South Carolina’s Colleton River Plantation to win the U.S. Junior Amateur title.
Not to be outdone, O’Sullivan won three AJGA titles in 2015. She became only the third player to win the Rolex Tournament of Champions and Rolex Girls Junior Championship in the same year, and had a 70.13 stroke average in 16 AJGA rounds. Her success, however, spanned beyond junior golf. The Chandler, Ariz., native became the youngest champion of a Symetra Tour event when she won the Gateway Classic in February and capped her summer by winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur. O’Sullivan made the cut in two LPGA majors (U.S. Women’s Open and Evian Championship) and was a member of the winning U.S. Ping Junior Solheim Cup team in Germany.
All told, the USC-bound golfer won eight times in 2015 and is the only golfer to earn both a Rolex Junior All-American and Scholastic Junior All-American honors.
Barbaree and O’Sullivan will formally receive their awards at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Nov. 22.