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Watch Out for JTNC at Upcoming PURE Insurance Championship

September 6, 2019

Watch Out for Junior Tour of Northern California at Upcoming PURE Insurance Championship

Don’t be surprised if a Junior Tour of Northern California player walks away with the Pro-Junior title at the upcoming PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee.

The event, set to tee off Sept. 27-29 at Poppy Hills Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links, has been a good luck charm for JTNC players.

Last year, Carmichael resident Matthew Sutherland (a member of The First Tee of Greater Sacramento) won the Pro-Junior crown playing with his uncle, former NCGA Amateur Match Play champ Kevin Sutherland.

Other JTNC winners have been:

  • 2011 Casie Cathrea, who won with Masters champ Ben Crenshaw
  • 2013 Michelle Xie, who won with Kirk Triplett
  • 2015 Jack Avrit (pictured), who won with co-record five-time AT&T Pro-Am champ Mark O’Meara

There was also former JTNC Player of the Year Josh McCarthy’s close call at the 2014 First Tee Open. That year, McCarthy and partner Peter Senior appeared to have the title won. That is, until The First Tee of Tucson’s Christopher Meyers pulled off one of the greatest shots on the historic 18th hole at Pebble Beach by any player–he’d make a double-eagle from 203 yards out—to give him and pro partner Lee Janzen the victory. Meyers is the only player EVER to win an official event at Pebble by holing out for double-eagle on 18.

***In a twist, this year’s event will feature both a Boys’ and Girls’ champion

JTNC players who’ll be in the field for this year’s Pro-Junior:

  • Yusuf Ahmed
  • Ashley Knepshield
  • Dylan McDermott (2018-2019 JTNC Boys’ Player of the Year)
  • Mikaela Paracuelles
  • Sam Sommerhauser
  • Alexander Iniakov
  • Lauren Garces
  • Ralph Kho
  • Jasmin Krishna

There is no admission fee to attend the PURE Championship, but spectators still need to register. For more info on the event and to register, please visit

JTNC Alum Yealimi Noh Runner-up at LPGA Event

September 3, 2019

Former JTNC standout Yealimi Noh once again made her presence felt on the LPGA Tour.

Noh, who’s second on the all-time Girls’ career win list (19), finished second at the Cambia Portland Classic, losing to winner Hannah Green by just a stroke. It was the second time that Noh, who won the 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at Poppy Hills, was in contention on the LPGA Tour. In July, she tied for sixth at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

Still just 18, Noh is currently entered in Stage II of the LPGA’s Qualifying School, which takes place Oct. 12-17 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla. Noh said this week is her final LPGA Tour appearance of 2019, as she has other sponsor obligations and tournaments in Korea and Japan over the coming weeks. Should she play well in those other events and jump into the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, she could skip Stage II and go directly to LPGA Q-Series, a two-week final stage that will be held Oct. 23-26 and Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 at Pinehurst No. 6 and Pinehurst No. 9 in North Carolina.

“After playing a couple of events, [I’m] kind of used to or kind of know what’s going on at the events here,” Noh said. “I’m really excited for next year. Hopefully I can win next year.”

JTNC Alum Josh McCarthy Wins NCGA Am Match Play Title

August 16, 2019

While progressing through the ranks, including winning Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year honors in  2014, Danville resident Josh McCarthy has always had his eyes on the NCGA’s biggest prize.

It’s now his.

McCarthy, now a 22-year-old senior at Pepperdine University, captured the 116th NCGA Amateur Match Play Championship on a suddenly chilly Friday at par-71 Spyglass Hill after defeating runner-up Toby Briggs, 7 and 5, in the 36-hole finale.

It’s the first NCGA title for McCarthy, who was a mutiple winner on the JTNC. Also a Youth on Course member, McCarthy joins the ranks of Lawson Little Jr., Roger Maltbie and Kevin Sutherland as champions of the prestigious event.

“This win is really important to me, everything this event means” said McCarthy, who closed things out by holing out a pitch shot for birdie on the 31st hole. “I’ve always hoped to win it. Growing up, you see the age groups ahead of you and the guys who’ve won it. It’s something I’ve always aspired to.”

The first medalist to go wire-to-wire since 2015 champ Maverick McNealy, the No.1 seeded McCarthy sewed things up with a solid stretch to kick off the afternoon round. Already holding a 1-up lead, McCarthy would win five of the first six holes to open a commanding 6-up lead through 24 holes.

With wind suddenly a factor, on both the 19th (par-5 1st) and 20th holes McCarthy won with pars. Following another win on No.22 (hole 4), Briggs on the par-3 23rd couldn’t escape the greenside bunker. He’d eventually just concede the hole. On the ensuing 24th hole, Briggs missed a short putt while McCarthy had a great up-and-down for par to increase the lead to 6-up.

“The weather turned bad there. I knew that pars were the goal,” said McCarthy, who called the win his biggest so far. “I went into that grind it out mentality. That’s really when the match went to my favor.”

Briggs, a junior at University of San Francisco and the No.6 seed, was never able to recover. The England native did cut the lead to 4-up with wins on the 26th and 28th holes, but McCarthy bounced back with a birdie on the 29th hole (No.11) to again make it 5-up.

“Josh is a class player,” said Briggs, who had never played Spyglass Hill prior to the championship. “He’s not going to give you any breaks.”

Having been hampered by blisters since Tuesday’s play, Briggs at least had a caddie this time around. His girlfriend’s brother, Colby. And while he came up short, Briggs was nothing but smiles afterwards.

“Can you complain? This week was about getting in some reps before the season,” Briggs said. “I’d wanted to see where my game was.”

McCarthy had help all week on the bag from his father, John.

Looking ahead, McCarthy still has his senior season left. After that, it’ll be on to turning professional.

“I’m thinking I’ll possibly turn pro next June,” McCarthy said. “It depends on how the year goes.”

So far, it’s going very well.

Dylan McDermott, Madelyn Gamble 2018-2019 Players of the Year

July 31, 2019 

Boys’ Player of the Year—Dylan McDermott

From the moment the season started, Dylan McDermott had his sights set on Player of the Year honors.

While there’d admittedly be some ups and downs, he accomplished his goal. The Granite High junior won the title with a total of 2,124 points. His good friend, Sam Sommerhauser, would place second at 1,971.

“It means a lot to me to be Player of the Year,” McDermott said. “I had some events where I played really well and some where I didn’t play well. But I played good enough and consistent enough to keep my points up.”

He’d post wins at the Fall Series II and IV Championships and later added a runner-up place finish at the annual NCGA Junior Championship. For extra measure, McDermott also had three third place finishes—Spring Series VI, Summer Series III and the Tour Championship. It was his finish at the Tour Championship that sealed his crown.

He joins great company as a Player of the Year winner. Past champs include PGA Tour winner Bryson DeChambeau (2011) and former USC standout and No.1 world-ranked amateur Justin Suh (2013, 15’).

“I really want to follow in the footsteps of those guys,” McDermott said. “Hopefully I’ll be playing with them in the future.”

Girls’ Player of the Year—Madelyn Gamble

It seemed headed this way.

In 2017, Madelyn Gamble finished tied for 44th in the Girls’ Player of the Year standings. A year later, she quickly ascended to the No.5 spot.

For the 2018-2019 season, she finished No.1.

Still just a junior at Carondelet High, Gamble ended the season with 2,193 points. She’d edge runner-up Danielle Suh, who finished at 2,136.

“It’s an honor to win this award and join the company of some great golfers,” Gamble said. “I have worked really hard and am excited to see improvement in many aspects of my game.”

Gamble had a season to remember. She’d rack up three wins, at the Fall Series IV, Spring Series II and Summer Series I Championships.

The Pleasant Hill resident also had two runner-ups (Summer Series II, Holiday Series II) and was third at the Fall Series VI Championship.  Outside the JTNC, Gamble reached the semifinals of the 2019 San Francisco Women’s City and the quarterfinals of the California Junior Girls’ State Championship.

“The season I had has been very special,” Gamble said. “At the beginning of the season, I outlined some of the goals I had and, for the most part, I accomplished them. Overall this season was full of many positive and unforgettable experiences.”


JTNC Alum Noah Norton at the U.S. Open

It didn’t go exactly the way he wanted it to. Still, Junior Tour of Northern California alum Noah Norton was doing something over 9,000 players had hoped to do—play in this week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Norton, a native of Chico, opened with a disappointing 9-over 80 in Thursday’s first round.

But he was still competing. Approximately 9,100 players entered qualifying for the championship. Only 15 amateurs made it into the 156-man field. Norton being one of them.

“It’s tough. It beat me up,” said Norton, who still managed to sneak in a bit of a smile. “It was a good learning experience. I know what I have to work on.”

While it’s not the equivalent of a U.S. Open, Norton has been in a pressure cooker before. In 2016, he reached the finals of the California Amateur at Olympic Club before losing to P.J. Samiere.

“You want to learn from each of your experiences. It’s all preparation, about getting better and better,” Norton said. “I just played poorly.”

Norton can fall back on some strong support. As it was at the Cal Am, he again has a strong contingent of family and friends rooting him on, including his mom and dad.

“There’s so many friends here I can’t even count,” Norton said. “Playing Pebble in the U.S. Open. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Qualifying Series for NCGA Junior Championship Returns

Qualifying Series for NCGA Junior Championship Returns

February 21, 2019

An alternative route for players to earn a spot into the prestigious NCGA Junior Championship is back in 2019.

As was the case last year, the entire Spring Series will count as a qualifying series. What that means is that, for every Spring Series championship (Spring I-Spring VII), the top three finishers inside the Top 10 who are not already exempt into the NCGA Junior Championship will earn an exemption.

“Its an exciting way to get more of our best players into the NCGA Junior Championship,” said JTNC Director Aaron Hartesveldt.

Players will be notified if they have earned a spot in the NCGA Junior following the conclusion of each Spring Series event. The Spring Series starts with the Spring Series I at Stockton Country Club and Elkhorn Golf Club (March 16-17).

This year’s 90th NCGA Junior Championship will be held at Green Hills CC in Millbrae.

Last year’s NCGA Junior champs were Ryan Meyer and Gia Feliciano.

Yealimi Noh Turns Professional

Yealimi Noh Turns Professional

February 13, 2019

Concord resident and former JTNC star Yealimi Noh has made it official. She has turned professional.

Noh, the winner of last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at Poppy Hils GC, announced the move via social media. Among Noh’s accomplishments on the JTNC are 19 wins, second only to all-time leader Sabrina Iqbal (26). Noh also has the third most JTNC victories in a season (five), which she accomplished during the 2016-2017 campaign.

Excited for this new journey as a professional golfer. ⛳🏆 — Yealimi Noh (@YealimiNoh) February 13, 2019

Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Erik Stone, Noh’s Alameda-based coach, said she already has played at least one event on the Korean LPGA Tour and another on the Cactus Tour in Arizona. Noh tied for eighth in the tournament in Litchfield Park, Ariz., on Feb. 4-6.

-NCGA Staff

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

November 19, 2018

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

The best of Northern California are set to take on the best of Southern California again.

Come Jan. 3-4, the fourth annual Challenge Cup will return to Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach. The Cup features 12 members (eight boys, four girls) 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.

Last year, the JTNC took a 2-1 lead in the series with a dominating 17-7 victory.

But there’s much more to the Cup than just the regional rivalry. For the juniors, the Cup provides a rare opportunity to compete not only in a team format but also in match play.

The 2017 JTNC and SoCal teams

“I like that it’s a team format. Everything else I play in is an individual tournament so it’s a new experience,” said Mika Jin at the 2017 event. “It’s fun too to get to meet the players from SoCal. It’s fun to compare your games.”

The Cup also has become a scouting hot spot for coaches from collegiate programs such as UCLA, University of Oregon, Cal, Stanford and New Mexico State.

Play on Thursday, Jan.3 will consist of nine holes of Foursomes and nine holes of Four-Ball. Friday’s (Jan. 4) action will feature the Singles matches.

The four girls who’ll tee it up for the JTNC are:

Mika Jin—A returner from 2017, Jin is a two-time winner this season (Fall Series VI and IX Championships)

Danielle Suh—Like Jin, Suh is a two-time champion this season, having won the Fall Series I and II titles.

Jasmine Chen—Along with winning the Fall Series III Championship, Chen placed T-3 at the Fall Series IX Championship.

Jacqueline Lucena—A high school senior, Lucena has three Top 10’s, including a victory at the Fall Series VII Championship.


The eight JTNC boys will be:

Dylan McDermott—McDermott has four Top 5’s including victories at the Fall Series II and IV Championships.

Sebastian Iqbal—Iqbal has a win at the Fall Series IX Championship and a runner-up finish at the Fall Series VII Championship.

Lucas Carper—Along with a win at the Fall Series VI Championship, Carper has two-runner-ups (Fall Series IV and IX Championships).

Sam Sommerhauser—Sommerhauser has three runner-up finishes on the season (Fall Series I, II and IV Championships).

Connor Motherway—Motherway has four Top 5 finishes this season, including a win at the Fall Series I Championship.

Caleb Shetler—Shetler won the Fall Series VII Championship and was T-2 at the Fall Series V Championship.

Jackson Koivun—Koivun has placed in the Top 3 twice, at the Fall Series III and VI Championships.

George McNeely—McNeely, who had a breakout season last year, was runner-up at the Fall Series VI Championship.


Southern California PGA Junior Tour Roster


Sherilyn Villanueva-Anaheim

Serena Sepersky – Temecula

Kamille Dimayuga-Buena Park

Jasmine Koo-Cerritos


Clay Seeber-Newport Beach

Guy Clauss-Newport Beach

Joseph Chun-Irvine

Ian Maspat –San Diego

Johnny Walker-Riverside

Lincoln Melcher-Burbank

Caden Fioroni-San Diego

Sebastian Vallejo-Long Beach


JTNC’s Matthew Sutherland, Yena Jang Shine at PURE Insurance Championship

With 16 Junior Tour of Northern California players in the field of 81 juniors at the 2018 PURE Insurance Championship, the odds were pretty good that more than one player from one of the local area’s First Tee chapters would feature among the top finishers in the event.

As Sunday’s final round wound up, two JTNC players were among three who were tied for the lead. JTNC player Matthew Sutherland of Carmichael and La Quinta’s Caroline Wales were already in the clubhouse at 16-under 199 while Roseville’s Yena Jang, from The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, had nine holes left to play—and an opportunity to take the lead.

The 16-year-old high school senior wants to study marine biology in college, but she obviously wasn’t distracted by the marine life and coastal views as she posted two rounds of 68 at Pebble Beach (net best ball with her pro, Duffy Waldorf) Friday and Sunday, and a 63 at Poppy Hills on Saturday.

A key moment in her final round was her birdie on #8, the notorious par-4 that features a second shot over a cliff above the crashing Pacific surf. Her pro partner, Duffy Waldorf, hit a low, hard-running tee shot that ran a little too far, and ended up going over the cliff.

Yena’s tee shot landed in perfect position in the fairway, and she stiffed her approach shot hole-high, about 20 feet left of the center flag.

“I know that when he was in trouble I was just trying to save par, because I didn’t want to go over on my round. They helped me read my line and then it just went in. It was really big. It was cool.”

Coming down the stretch, Jang knew that she was tied with Sutherland and Wales, and she knew what she had to do to pull out the win. Just one birdie or better, in the final stretch (and no bogeys, of course) would have pulled out the win for her. It didn’t happen, but the Roseville youngster was very sanguine about the result:

“I knew, and I tried really hard to make birdie (on 18), but I hit it past, but it’s OK. And then my pro (Duffy Waldorf) wasn’t having the best putting day, either. He had a lot of birdie chances but they weren’t going in. I had a couple of birdie putts that lipped out, I had a sand shot that went into the hole and went back out. Things like that.”

The junior competition came down to a three-way tie, based on final score, and was decided by a scorecard playoff, backwards from 18; that is, the three players’ scores on the 18th hole were compared, and the player with the best cumulative score on the hole would win; if their scores on the hole were identical, their scores on 17 would be evaluated, and so on.

Matthew Sutherland’s net 2-under on 18 put him in first place. Wales and Jang’s finishes came down to their play on the 16th hole over three days, with Wales taking second on the strength of a net 3-under to Jang’s par.

Sutherland, who also plays for the First Tee of Greater Sacramento, knew what the picture was as he and his pro partner, and uncle, Kevin Sutherland, were closing out their round.

“I’ve got to be honest, me and Kevin were talking, we didn’t make birdie on the par-5 fourteenth, and we were thinking we’re going to need to make some birdies coming down the stretch. At that point I think we were tied or one back of the lead. Kevin ended up birdying 15. We made a couple of good pars on 16 and 17, and ended up (parring 18). We put up a low number in the morning and it just held up.”

“The bottom line is, it’s not about who wins out here, it’s about the experience that all these kids and myself have had, and I think that’s probably the most important part about all this.”

Playing the event was a special experience for Sutherland, and especially sharing it with his uncle Kevin, a Sacramento native and Fresno State grad who has played in the PGA Tour and Champions Tour since 1992.

“He was a great partner, he stayed focused, he kept me in line. It’s been one of the best weeks of my life, for sure, whether or not I’m taking home a trophy.”


JTNC Players Have Shined at PURE Insurance Championship

September 26, 2018

Keep an eye on players from the Junior Tour of Northern California at this weekend’s PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee.

In the Pro-Junior portion of the championship, the JTNC has proven to be a force.

In 2011, then JTNC member Casie Cathrea won the Pro-Junior title with partner Ben Crenshaw. Two years later in 2013, Michelle Xie of Palo Alto won the Pro-Junior playing with Kirk Triplett. Another two years later in 2015, JTNC member Jack Avrit won the title competing with the ‘Prince of Pebble Beach’—record five-time AT&T Pro-Am winner Mark O’Meara (pictured).

Coincidentally, this year Avrit’s younger brother, Owen, will be playing with O’Meara.

There was also Josh McCarthy’s close call at the 2014 First Tee Open. While McCarthy and partner Peter Senior appeared to have the title won, The First Tee of Tucson’s Christopher Meyers pulled off one of the greatest shots on the historic 18th hole at Pebble Beach—by any player, he’d make a double-eagle from 203 yards out—to give him and pro partner Lee Janzen the victory.

When this year’s First Tee Open gets underway Friday at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course, a total of 16 JTNC members will have a chance at hoisting a trophy at Pebble Beach. Here’s the 16 who’ll be hoping to hoist the trophy on Sunday.

Angelica Antonio–First Tee of Greater Contra Costa

Owen Avrit–First Tee of Central Coast

William Bensch–First Tee of San Joaquin

Courtney Cervellin–First Tee of Greater Sacramento

Yena Jang–First Tee of Greater Sacramento

Linette Jun–First Tee of Silicon Valley

Calton Kang–First Tee of Silicon Valley

Erica Lam–First Tee of Silicon Valley

Nthenya Maithya–First Tee of Central Valley

Skyer May–First Tee of San Joaquin

Isabelle O’Brien–First Tee of Contra Costa

Hailey Salomone–First Tee of Contra Costa

Matthew Sutherland–First Tee of Greater Sacramento

Dylan Van Ostrand–First Tee of Greater Sacramento

Jack Wright–First Tee of Fresno

Kelly Yu–First Tee of Fresno

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