By Emma Varela
Rolex’s support of junior golf and the AJGA spans more than three decades. Along the way, there have been moments of excellence. The AJGA, in partnership with Rolex, seeks to celebrate these moments and recognize the accomplishments of junior golfers both on and off the course.
As the 2023 Hilton Grand Vacations ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex comes to a close, it’s worth looking back at how the 2022 champion, Yana Wilson of Henderson, Nevada, turned her first AJGA invitational win into the week of a lifetime.
The 2024 graduate won the 2022 edition of the Hilton Grand Vacations ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex in a one-hole playoff over eventual 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur Champion, Anna Davis of Spring Valley, California.
With the win, she earned the opportunity to play in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions Pro-Am and turned that start into her LPGA debut.
Wilson started the final round in 2022 three shots off the lead, but still within the tournament’s final pairing alongside Davis and Katie Li of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Wilson and Davis went back and forth all day. Davis, who led starting the final round, dropped a shot on hole Nos. 3 and 5, moving to 9-under. Wilson took advantage of the situation with an eagle on No. 7. Her drive went to the right rough on the 365-yard par 4. She pulled a wedge out of her bag about 75 yards out, two hops, and in the hole for the eagle.
The pair made the turn at 9-under respectfully with nine holes to play. Davis birdied the par 3 No. 11 to again share the lead with Wilson. Wilson responded two holes later on No. 13 with an eagle on the 483-yard par 5, moving to 12-under-par.
Wilson kept a one-stroke lead until hole No. 17 where she bogeyed and moved back to 11-under-par tied with Davis. Both girls birdied the final hole of the day to force a playoff.
Wilson walked off the playoff with a slam dunk eagle from 75 yards out to close it out in front of her golf inspiration Annika Sorenstam. She finished the week at 12-under-par 207.
Sorenstam was in attendance for the final round of the 2022 event and witnessed the playoff between Wilson and Davis. Wilson relived the 2022 moment and reacted to Annika watching her hole out to win the 14th edition of the event. Wilson cites Sorenstam as her role model on and off the course.
Annika is definitely my biggest inspiration. I knew that she was there so I was trying to do something special [in the playoff]. I was trying to put it close and the ball wound up going in. It was a really special moment for me. She is a really great model and what she is doing for the girl’s game is incredible.YANA WILSON, 2022 ANNIKA INVITATIONAL CHAMPION
With the victory, Wilson qualified to participate in the Pro-Am at the LPGA’s Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Fla.
Her play in the Pro-Am earned her a spot in the amateur field at the annual LPGA Tournament of Champions event. This start marked her official LPGA debut. She went on to win the Gross Net Amateur title and was awarded a week-long vacation from Hilton Grand Vacations.
Wilson competed alongside LPGA champions and world-class celebrity players and the tournament was aired on Golf Channel and NBC. AJGA and ANNIKA alumni Danielle Kang went on to win the professional division.
Thank you for your reading. Join the conversation by posting a comment.