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Annual Challenge Cup Set to Return to Poppy Hills Jan. 3-4

December 5, 2016

It’s the North vs. the South again.

A year after the South’s inaugural victory, the second annual Challenge Cup is set to tee off at Poppy Hills GC on January 3-4.

What’s the Challenge Cup? It’s 12 members of the CIG-sponsored Junior Tour of Northern California taking on 12 players from the Southern California Junior Tour in a Ryder Cup-like format.

It’s some of the best juniors in the Golden State all at one place. And for the players, it’s a blast.

At last year’s Cup, players raved about the event for a number of reasons including the camaraderie and format. The concept of the event began a few years ago when former NCGA executive director Vaughn Kezirian got the idea of bringing all of California’s best juniors together.

Junior Tour of Northern California

Sabrina Iqbal

“We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said 2015 JTNC Team member Yoonhee Kim. “It’s fun playing with partners. We don’t get to do that very often.”

Representing the JTNC will be the top six boys and top three girls in the points standings as of the Fall Series IX Championship which took place Oct. 22-23 at Bidwell Park GC. Two boys and one girl were also added to the team as chosen by the JTNC committee.

Play on Tuesday the 3rd will consist of nine holes of Foursomes and nine holes of Four-Ball. Wednesday’s final round will consist of Singles matches.

“We’re excited to have the second Challenge Cup. Last year went really well,” said JTNC director Aaron Hartesveldt. “This is an important event in regards to California junior golf.”

The eight boys who’ll tee it up for the JTNC are:

  • Thomas Hutchison—The defending JTNC Boys’ Player of the Year is off to another great start. He’d set a JTNC record by winning the Fall Series II, III and IV titles in succession.
  • Ashkaan Hakim—Winner of the recent Christmas Classic, Hakim grabbed the title at the Fall Series VIII Championship.
  • Brian Stark—Along with winning the title at the Fall Series V Championship, Stark also won the AJGA Junior All-Star at Morango.
  • Justin Gums—Gums had it going in October. He’d win the Fall Series VII Championship and was runner-up at the Fall Series VI Championship.
  • Ethan Chung—During the fall, Chung was always in the hunt. He’d rack up six Top 10 finishes, finishing T-4 at both the Fall Series V and IX Championships.
  • Ryan Grauman—Grauman has been solid in three JTNC appearances this season. He’d finish T-2 at the Fall Series VII and was third at the Fall Series III Championship.
  • Ryan Burnett—Burnett won the 2016 JTNC Tour Championship at Poppy Hills and qualified for the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur.
  • Jeremy Villafuerte—Villafuerte was the only JTNC player to reach the Round of 16 at this year’s NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship. He also finished T-3 at the Fall Series VIII Championship.

The four JTNC girls will be:

  • Sabrina Iqbal—The record three-time defending JTNC Girls’ Player of the Year continues to be a dominating force. This season she has three wins and four runner-up finishes.
  • Yealimi Noh—Noh has had a spectacular fall, collecting three JTNC wins and a victory at the NCGA/CIF NorCal Girls’ Championship. The victories have moved her to third on the all-time JTNC wins list.
  • Bibilani Liu—Liu has had a solid fall, collecting four Top 10 finishes. She’d finish tied for second at the Fall Series III Championship.
  • Sienna Lyford—Lyford has been stellar in her three appearances this fall. Along with a win at the Fall Series VII, she’d finish T-2 at the Fall Series IV Championship.



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