Seventeen-year-old Paphangkorn Tavatanakit was named Rolex Girls Junior Play of the Year according to the announcement of the American Junior Golf Association on Thursday.
The senior student of the Keerapat International School became the second Thai to win this award after Ariya Jutanugarn who won twice in 2011 and 2012. Paphankorn is ranked No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Golfweek Girls Junior Rankings and Junior Golf Scoreboard Rankings.
“Being honored as the Rolex Junior Player of the Year is surreal,” said Paphangkorn. “This award defines the best player in junior golf and I didn’t dare to dream about receiving it because of the many talented golfers capable of winning this award. Winning this award means the world to me and I am so grateful and blessed for this opportunity that would not have been possible without my family, friends, coaches, Rolex and the AJGA.”
The teen prodigy won two AJGA Invitationals in 2016, Rolex Tournament of Champions and the season-ending PING Invitational. Her PING Invitational score of 12-under-par 204 shattered American Esther Choe’s 2006 tournament record of 6-under-par 210.
Verbally committed to UCLA, Paphangkorn also finished tied fifth at the Yani Tseng Invitational. She competed in the U.S. Women's Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, advancing to the round of 16 at both events.
Meanwhile sixteen-year-old Noah Goodwin from Corinth Texas won the boy’s category. The high school junior had six top-five finishes in seven national junior tournaments in 2016, including runner-up showings at the U.S. Junior, Thunderbird International and the Ping Invitational to go with a victory at the AJGA’s Bishops Gate Golf Academy Junior.