The Men

Jordan SpiethCory Whitsett gave himself the perfect New Year’s present with victory in the Patriot All-American Invitational. The University of Alabama golfer enters 2012 ranked 24th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, an improvement of 12 places on how he ended the 2011 season.

The Houston, Texas native was the only player to break 200 over 54 holes at the par-71 Wigwam Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona. Rounds of 69, 64 and 66 gave Whitsett a 14-under-par total of 199 and a three-shot victory over Alabama teammate Bobby Wyatt.

Twenty-one of the world’s top 100 players teed it up in the end of year tournament. However, it was Whitsett who grabbed the headlines by hitting lots of fairways and greens, especially in his second round 64, the low score of the tournament.

Wyatt improved his ranking 36 spots, moving inside the world top 60 to 58th.

Juan Eduardo Cerda of Chile overcame 103 golfers from 35 countries to win the Junior Orange Bowl at the Biltmore Golf Club in Coral Cables, Florida. Cerda, Chile’s junior champion, bogeyed the 71st hole, and then watched as Belgium’s Thomas Detry birdied the 72nd to set up a playoff after the pair had tied on 6-under-par 278.

Cerda took the title with an eagle on the third extra hole when his second to the 516-yard, par-5 hole finished three feet from the cup. He was the only player in the field to record rounds of 70 or better over 72 holes, compiling scores of 68, 70, 70 and 70.

Cerda moves 24 places on the WAGR table to world number 151. Detry, the Belgian match play champion, improves his ranking 81 places to 262nd.

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers swap places on this week’s ranking. Spieth moves to second behind world number one Patrick Cantlay, and Rodgers to third in the world order.

The Women

Korea’s Hyo-Joo Kim survived a final round scare to win the Junior Orange Bowl and further cement her position as Korea’s top female amateur.

Scores of 68, 70 and 69 at the par-71 Biltmore Golf Club in Coral Gables, Florida helped the 16-year-old establish a four shot 54-hole lead over France’s Celine Boutier. However, poor putting in a closing 74 nearly cost Kim the championship.

Boutier slipped to a 3-over-par 74 in the final round, but compatriot Perrina Delacour picked up the French baton. She compiled a 67, 4-under, to put pressure on Kim.

The Korean rallied over the closing holes to finish on 281, 3-under-par, for the 72 holes and sneak the title by a shot over Delacour. Kim turned up for the tournament as the world’s 25th best amateur and left as the 21st ranked player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Delacour’s runner-up finish takes her into the world’s top 50. The French player moves to 47th on the ranking, an improvement of eight places.

Fourteen-year-old Canadian MacKenzie Brooke Henderson took third place on her own after finishing the tournament on level par, three shots behind Kim. The precocious youngster moves inside the world top 100 as a result, improving 19 places to 97th.

The world’s top 20 remains as it was at the end of 2011, but the top 50 saw another two changes besides Delacour’s. Germany’s Antonia Scherer moves six places to world number 50, while a familiar name in amateur circles moves to world number 37.

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand is the player in question. She moves 14 spots closer to younger sister Ariya, the world number eight.

Big things are expected of the Jutanugarns during 2012, so perhaps Moriya’s move up the rankings is a sign of what’s to come.

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