Junior Tour of Northern California’s Anna Zhou Playing in First Tee Open
September 25, 2014
For the last four years or so, Palo Alto resident Anna Zhou has been honing her game on the Junior Tour of Northern California.
Now, she’s taking it to another level.
Zhou, a 16-year-old senior at Gunn High, is among the 81 juniors who are teeing off in this weekend’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach.
“I’m really excited,” Zhou said. “I’ve already met a lot of great people and got to talk to some of the Champions Tour members.”
At Wednesday evening’s pairings party at Pebble Beach, Zhou met her professional partner for the week, Tom Pernice Jr. Pernice Jr, who won the Principal Charity Classic back in June, has long been known to possess one of the sweetest swings in golf.
Zhou’s isn’t too bad, either.
At this year’s San Francisco City Amateur Championship, she finished runner-up. Playing on the JTNC, her best run was a T-2 finish at the Tour Championship, which just happened to be played at one of this week’s two First Tee Open venues—Poppy Hills. She’d finish at 150, four behind winner Sabrina Iqbal, after back-to-back rounds of 75.
She’ll be at Poppy Hills again for Saturday’s second round.
“I think that, especially with the re-do, Poppy Hills feels like a links course,” said Zhou, who finished sixth in the 2012 race for JTNC Girls Player of the Year honors. “There’s no rough and you have the natural sandy areas. It’s challenging but the scenery is also really nice.”
While The First Tee of Silicon Valley member has competed at Poppy Hills, she’s never played Pebble Beach. That was, until a practice round on Thursday.
“It’s always been a dream for me to play at Pebble Beach. I saw it during the pairings party. It looks like it’s going to be a great course to play,” Zhou said.
As for getting advice for the week, Zhou didn’t have to look far. Last year, fellow Palo Alto resident Michelle Xie won the title playing with Kirk Triplett.
“I talked to Michelle a little about last year,” Zhou said.
Zhou too, will enter the tournament with all of her JTNC experience to rely on.
“On the JTNC, I’ve been able to play a lot of beautiful courses and get lots of experience playing tournament golf. That’s helped,” Zhou said.
Thirteen players from the JTNC, sponsored by Capital Insurance Group, are playing on the national stage this weekend. Others in the field include 2014 Boys’ Player of the Year Joshua McCarthy, Paige Phillips, Michael Mahlberg, Bryan Baumgarten, Nikhil Swaminathan, Brittany O’Bryant, Kylie Fong, Logan Lowe, Mabel Wong, Katie Horsford, Kayli Lujan and Jack Jaffe.
On the pro front, among those at Poppy Hills on Thursday were Ben Crenshaw, Davis Love III and three-time First Tee Open winner Jeff Sluman. Check out the photo gallery below: