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HomeFEATURED WEBSITEMichelle Wie West helps facilitate 'big sister' program at LPGA's Mizuho Americas...

Michelle Wie West helps facilitate ‘big sister’ program at LPGA’s Mizuho Americas Open, where juniors play alongside the pros

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey – There’s a tournament within a tournament going on at this week’s Mizuho Americas Open, and it’s the kind of event that represents the heart of the game.

The top 24 girls in the AJGA rankings were invited to compete at Liberty National in a Stableford format. The juniors will play together for the first two rounds in between the two waves of LPGA players. Over the weekend, they’ll be paired with the pros.

But it’s not simply that the juniors are here onsite, with a $1,500 travel stipend from Mizuho along with a club-provided caddie. (No parents are coaches are allowed to loop.)

Tournament host Michelle Wie West has facilitated a big sister program so that juniors are sure to leave this week with at least one new valuable relationship.

“At the pairings party we matched them up, every junior with their pro,” said Wie West. “They exchanged phone numbers and are playing a practice round today and having a meal today.

“Those exchanges of phone numbers are everything, because moving forward if they have a question they can text each other. I remember the first time I got Meg Mallon’s phone number … just being able to have access to such a great player.”

Marina Alex, for example, played a practice round with Sara Im, who has committed to Vanderbilt, Alex’s alma mater.

“I know when I was a junior nothing like this existed,” said Alex. “You would come out, and if you qualified, let’s say for a U.S. Open or played a professional event as an amateur or as a junior, it was a little scary.”

On Wednesday, juniors Gianna Clemente, Yana Wilson and Katie Li took part in a pre-tournament press conference following World No. 1 Jin Young Ko.

Wilson, winner of the 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior, played a practice round with Andrea Lee on Tuesday and declared her by far the nicest professional she’s ever met. Li played with Lilia Vu and Clemente was paired with Paula Creamer.

Both Wilson and Clemente reported that they love talking to the media, with both having had a good bit of experience with it in recent years.

Li, who has verbally committed to Duke, said she appreciates the opportunity to learn first-hand how an entire LPGA event functions.

“Big thanks to everyone that helped host this event,” said Li, because without them, I don’t – I hope that I’ll get to experience this in the future, but like at least I will have at least once in my life (been) inside the ropes.”



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