Lake Worth’s Alexa Pano headlines a list of four junior golfers who were recently honored as Rolex Junior All-Americans by the American Junior Golf Association.
Pano, 16, a first-team selection, is joined by second-teamers Brett Roberts of Coral Springs and Luke Clanton of Miami Lakes, and Casey Weidenfeld of Pembroke Pines, an honorable mention selection.
“It is a really nice accomplishment to cap off your year with,” said Pano, ranked 53rd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking in mid-November. “It was nice to receive it this year even though it felt a little less special because I only played a few events.
“You feel like you earned it a little more if you played more events, but it is still a nice thing to be rewarded for what you had done during the year and to say you got it before the end of the year.”
Pano played in just four junior events, including two prior to the coronavirus pandemic and two right after courses and tournaments began re-opening. Like it was for most golfers, the coronavirus presented challenges. Right after winning the Kathy Whitworth Invitational in mid-March, most everyone’s golf came to a halt.
“It was pretty awful,” Pano said. “I lost a lot of my season, and not only losing that, but I also lost being able to practice in my home county. I was driving super far to go practice and it was such a hassle.”
“It is a really nice accomplishment to cap off your year with. … It was nice to receive it this year even though it felt a little less special because I only played a few events.”
Pano and her father, Rick, made the 2-hour, 40-minute round trip to Port St. Lucie for a couple of months.
“I didn’t have the time to do a ton of practicing because you are driving so far,” she said. “It took away a lot, but I am glad to be back competing again.”
Pano finished the year fourth in the Rolex AJGA Ranking. She’s a four-time Rolex Junior All-American, including three consecutive years on the first team.
In addition to winning the Kathy Whitworth Invitational, Pano also captured the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship at Coral Ridge Country Club for a second straight year and her third in the past four.
Pano competed in three AJGA Invitationals, including the Rolex Tournament of Champions, where she finished T4. She also made the cut in back-to-back professional events – the LPGA’s Walmart NW Arkansas
Championship (T41 on 72-67-66) and the Symetra Tour’s Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship (T50).
Clanton, 17, is a 2022 verbal commit to Florida State University. He recently won his second FHSAA Class 2A state individual championship with a two-day total of 139, including a 7-under-par 65 on the final day.
The junior at American Heritage School in Plantation also won the state title in 2018.
The first-time selection to the Rolex Junior All-American second team held a Rolex AJGA Ranking of 13th. His best finishes this year came when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior honoring Jim Bell and placed third in the Maridoe Junior Invitational.
“It feels really good to be named to the team,” Clanton said. “I missed it one spot the past two years, so to be an All-American is just awesome. My goal is to become No. 1 in the world. This was also a goal, and we are getting there.”
“Brett (Roberts) is at the college I am going to go to in two years and we are really good buddies, we talk all of the time,” Clanton said. “It’s kind of cool that we were both named All-American.”
Roberts, 18, of Coral Springs, is a freshman at FSU. He also won an FHSAA Class 3A state individual championship in 2018 while he was at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
The two-time Rolex Junior All-American was ranked 24th this year and played in three AJGA Invitationals, including a best finish of T7 at the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Roberts, a first-team Rolex All-American last year, was also a member of the 2019 United States Junior Presidents Cup team.
“It is really special that my name is up there with a lot of other great players who have achieved this honor,” Roberts said. “I only played in two AJGA tournaments this year and to finish high enough in those to win this honor is pretty special. I was a little surprised.”
Weidenfeld, 18, of Pembroke Pines, recently signed her national letter-of-intent with Auburn University.
The two-time Rolex Junior All-American ranked 25th this year. She won the AJGA Girls Championship and made three AJGA Invitational appearances. She also reached the Round of 32 in the North and South Amateur.
“I feel very honored to be recognized as a Rolex Junior All-American,” said Weidenfeld, who is taking 14 college credit hours at Broward College this semester and plans 14 more next semester. “I am so happy that my hard work is showing through this achievement.”
“I was very happy where my ranking was this season,” said Weidenfeld, an honorable mention selection last year who also was named a 2020 Scholastic Junior All-American.
The 2020 Rolex Junior All-America teams are comprised of 48 boys and 48 girls, ages 14-19, from 26 states and seven countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Portugal, South Korea and the United States.
The teams were determined exclusively through the Rolex AJGA Rankings as of Oct. 14.
Past Rolex Junior All-Americans include Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Lexi Thompson, Danielle Kang, Anna Nordqvist, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, and Inbee Park.
The 2020 Rolex Junior All-America Teams will be honored virtually through a Rolex Junior All-America Awards celebration on Friday, Dec. 4.
“The Greatest Night in Junior Golf” will recognize the accomplishments and celebrate the achievements of the Rolex Junior All-America teams, AJGA Scholastic Junior All-Americans, and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award, recipients. The AJGA began honoring All-Americans in 1978.