While the golf world focused on Rose Zhang and her amazing professional debut at the LPGA’s Mizuho Americas Open, she wasn’t the only winner on Liberty National Golf Club on Sunday.
Henderson’s Yana Wilson won an AJGA tournament played in conjunction with the LPGA tournament, adding another prestigious title to the Coronado High player’s impressive résumé.
“My week was super fun,” Wilson said. “It’s not every week you get to play with the professionals, so it was definitely not the most normal week ever, but I had a blast.”
The nation’s best juniors played the first two rounds in their own groups, with the leaders then paired with LPGA players on the weekend. For Wilson, that was a special — though stressful — situation.
“I got to play with Minjee Lee, and she’s my favorite player,” Wilson said of Saturday’s third round. “That was pretty nerve-wracking for me, especially teeing it up on the first tee. I was like shaking over my ball.”
Nervous, yes, but not enough to impact her play. Using a modified Stableford scoring system, Wilson stayed at the top of the leaderboard, edged ahead Sunday and held on for the win.
The experience should help Wilson’s comfort level in July when she tees it up in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, a spot she earned with a victory in the 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
“Honestly, it made me feel like I was one of the pros, and I feel like that just helped my game a lot more than I had already kind of had,” Wilson said of the week.
“It was super cool.”
Vegas golfers miss out
The longest day in golf came and went Monday with Las Vegas golfers having nothing to show for their efforts.
Final qualifying for the U.S. Open was held at 11 locations, and Southern Nevada golfers came up empty. Harry Hall in Toronto and Ryan Moore in Dallas both missed qualifying by one shot during the 36-hole qualifiers, which saw more than 800 players vying for the final 64 spots in the field for next week’s national championship.
Other local PGA Tour players to fall short included Doug Ghim, Nick Watney, Joseph Bramlett and Scott Piercy, while David Lipsky and Maverick McNealy and LIV player Danny Lee withdrew before the day began.
Other local players to fall short included UNLV’s Caden Fioroni, Matthew Manganelo, Jhared Hack, Grant Booth, Max Marisco and Brandon Bauman. Former Palo Verde and UNLV player Jack Trent also failed to tee it up despite making it through regional qualifying last month.
Las Vegas will have six players in the U.S. Open field who were exempt from qualifying: Xander Schauffele, Kurt Kitayama, Seamus Power, Justin Suh, Taylor Montgomery and Collin Morikawa, whose status is uncertain after withdrawing from the final round of the Memorial with back spasms.
There is also a slight chance Hall or Moore can get in as an alternate with the USGA leaving six spots open pending possibilities of a handful of players qualifying at this week’s Canadian Open.
* Fioroni may have fallen short in U.S. Open qualifying, but he did get some good news. The UNLV junior was among 25 college players named to the PING All-West Region team by the Golf Coaches Association of America. It is the second consecutive year he has been honored. Fioroni finished the season with a 70.53 scoring average, which ranks fifth all-time for a single season in program history. The 2023 Mountain West Golfer of the Year also led the Rebels with 151 birdies and 27 rounds at par or better.
* A few spots remain for a special day of golf June 19 at Bali Hai Golf Club. Tee times are available for a highly discounted $100 per person on Bali Hai Day in a fundraiser for the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame and junior golf scholarships.
Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.