LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – University of South Florida star Melanie Green shot a Patriot All-America Women’s Division record -8 (62) Friday in the first round of the 13th annual event played at The Wigwam Golf Club’s Blue Course, taking a three-shot lead into Saturday’s second round. Three players sit atop the Men’s Division leaderboard, with Texas Tech’s Matthew Comegys, Florida’s Ian Gilligan and Illinois’ Jerry Ji all going low with -5 (65) rounds on the Gold Course. View the entire 2023 Patriot All-America leaderboard here.
“No complaints – the course is in great shape, kudos to all of the course management and maintenance people that made it all possible,” said Green, a senior from Medina, N.Y. “This tournament is pretty incredible so far, and it’s only just beginning. So I’m really happy and excited to get out there again tomorrow.”
“I started off with a bogey on a par 5, which isn’t the best, but from there I played some really solid golf and was pretty happy with my overall performance,” said Gilligan, a transfer from Long Beach State and the defending Big West Conference Individual Champion.
Eight miles northwest of The Wigwam, BYU’s Cooper Jones posted eight birdies with two bogeys for a first round -6 (66), good for a one-shot lead at the 2nd Annual Thunderbolt, played at Sterling Grove Golf + Country Club in Surprise. Jones leads a packed leaderboard including a pair of locals currently in second: Phoenix-native and University of Southern California junior Gavin Aurilia, Mesa-native and Oklahoma State freshman Johnnie Clark – along with Northwestern’s James Imai, all one shot back at -5. Twelve more players sit within two shots of second place. View the entire 2023 Thunderbolt leaderboard here.
“Nothing really stuck out today other than just solid golf and hit a couple good shots with not a lot of mistakes,” said Jones, a freshman from Highland, Utah. “I just need to keep doing what I’m doing: just try to hit fairways and greens, and make as little mistakes as I can. That’s kind of what I did today.”
For South Florida’s Green, it seemed inappropriate to ask what went well in her standout round, as opposed to asking if anything went wrong. The three-time 2023 American All-Conference Team selection chipped in twice, and sheepishly admitted her score could have been a little better if not for two three-putts, including a par on hole 14 after driving the green.
“Everything was working if you’re going to shoot eight under,” said Green, who led the Bulls with eight top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 finishes this past season. “I tried to keep chatty with my playing competitors today. I’ll probably try do the same thing tomorrow just to stay loose.”
University of Texas freshman Lauren Kim sits alone in second place in the Women’s Division after recording five birdies for a clean -5 (65) in the first round. The Surrey, British Columbia-native hopes to take the momentum gained by four birdies on the back nine into Saturday’s second round.
“Same thing as today: stay patient,” said Kim, a two-time U.S. Women’s Open participant and the 2022 Pacific Northwest Golf Association Player of the Year. “The putts will drop, whether they drop on the first hole or on the 10th hole, I just have to stay patient.”
Five players in the Men’s Division are tied for fourth place, one shot behind the trio of leaders. Another eight players are tied for ninth place on shot behind, setting up an exciting weekend of golf on the Gold Course.
The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The golfers receive a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also receive a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier, giving many of the top players a unique perspective not only on golf, but on life. At the conclusion of the tournament, the golf bags are shipped to players’ schools and auctioned with all proceeds benefiting the Folds of Honor Foundation.
Named after the Air Force P-47 Thunderbolt, The Thunderbolt has been added to the tournament week schedule to accommodate players who met the initial eligibility but did not make it into The Patriot. The Thunderbolt consists of players who are ranked in the top 1000 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), are PING Second, Third and Honorable Mention All-Americans from Divisions II, III, NAIA, and NJCAA, or are AJGA Second Team and Honorable Mention All-Americans.
The Patriot All-America and Thunderbolt is a collaboration between the GCAA, WGCA, the West Valley Mavericks, The Patriot All-America LLC, the Arizona Golf Association, JDM Partners, the City of Surprise and Sterling Grove Golf + Country Club – in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation and support from The Thunderbirds, the Waste Management Phoenix Open host.
For more information including live stream links, player pairings and schedule of events, visit patriotallamerica.com.
About The Patriot All-America Invitational
Featuring golf’s stars of tomorrow, The Patriot All-America is regarded as a top amateur event nationally, attracting PING All-America golfers from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and NJCAA rankings as well as from universities outside the United States. The West Valley Mavericks (Mavericks), The Patriot All-America LLC, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA), the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA), JDM Partners, and the Arizona Golf Association (AGA) partner with the Folds of Honor Foundation to host the tournament, played December 29-31 annually at The Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz. For more information visit patriotallamerica.com.
About The Thunderbolt
Following the overwhelming success of The Patriot All-America Invitational, organizers implemented a second tournament to the Patriot lineup named The Thunderbolt in 2022. Played at Sterling Grove Golf + Country Club in Surprise, Ariz., it features 72 more of the nation’s top male collegiate players competing in a three-round event on the same dates as The Patriot: December 29-31. Named after the Air Force P-47 Thunderbolt, The Thunderbolt has been added to accommodate those players that met the initial eligibility but did not make it into The Patriot. For more information visit patriotallamerica.com.
About Wigwam Golf Club
The Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort, with 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Gold Course has hosted many signature tournaments over the years, including numerous U.S. Open Qualifiers, U.S. Amateur Qualifiers, several NCAA Regional Championships and the annual Patriot All-America Invitational, one of the top amateur competitions in the world. The 7,430 yard, par 72 track has also received various industry awards and accolades since opening in 1965, including being named one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in America.” In December 2009, The Wigwam (including the golf courses and resort property) was purchased by JDM Partners, led by sports icon Jerry Colangelo. For more information, please visit wigwamgolf.com.
About Golf Coaches Association of America
Established in 1958, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is the professional organization of golf coaches. The GCAA’s mission is to support its member coaches by creating educational opportunities, providing resources, and promoting its members with the purpose of enhancing their overall performance as coaches, mentors, and teachers. The GCAA also recognizes the excellence and achievements of its members and their student-athletes in academic, athletic and civic endeavors.a
About Women’s Golf Coaches Association
Founded in 1983, the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA), formerly known as the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA), began as an organization to promote participation in women’s collegiate golf. The vision of the WGCA since its inception has been to encourage the playing of intercollegiate golf for women in correlation with a general objective of education and in accordance with the highest tradition of intercollegiate competition. Today, the WGCA represents the finest coaches in women’s golf with a membership of over 650 coaches of Division I, II & III, NAIA and NJCAA collegiate programs.
About The West Valley Mavericks
The West Valley Mavericks Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) was born of the imagination and vision of a group of community leaders late in 2012. The West Valley Mavericks (or just ‘Mavericks’) is a group led by gentlemen who believe that the West Valley is an incredible place to live, work, and play. The Mavericks’ charter is to advance charity, culture, community, and commerce in the West Valley of Phoenix. As an organization, we use individual contributions, fundraising events, business sponsorships, ticket sales donations, as well as hands-on community service to raise money to assist children and families, help people in need, and improve the quality of life in West Valley communities. For more information please visit www.westvalleymavericksfoundation.org.
About Arizona Golf Association
The Arizona Golf Association has been serving amateur golfers in Arizona since 1923 when it held the first State Amateur Championship. Today, it is licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide handicapping and course rating services to member clubs, to provide tournament and rules expertise and to oversee the application of amateur status.
About Folds of Honor
Folds of Honor is a nonprofit organization that provides academic scholarships to the spouses and children of military members who have fallen or been disabled while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Educational scholarships support private school tuition or tutoring in grades K-12, as well as post-secondary tuition (two- or four-year college/university, technical or trade school). Since its inception in 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded over 29,000 scholarships totaling over $145 million in all 50 states. Among the students served, 41 percent are minorities.
For Immediate Release
December 29, 2023
David Bataller, Media Director
(760) 845-6986 | [email protected]