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Zhou & Kovelesky Earn Players of the Year

November 10, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. – Darren Zhou and Chloe Kovelesky have been named Florida State Golf Association’s Junior Players of the Year. After incredible years for both players, the record books have been etched with their names in them for the first time.

Zhou and Kovelesky have rightfully earned the title by winning a combined five times throughout the year.

Boys’ Junior Player of the Year

Darren Zhou racked up four Florida Junior Tour victories throughout the year, including two top-eight performances at state championships.

Thirteen-year old Zhou started off his year with a strong performance at the FJT University of Florida (13-15) Major, with scores of 73-70-71. From there it was off to the races, not finishing outside of the top two until May.

The summer began and Zhou wanted to test his luck against some of the best amateur players in the state at the 69th Boys' Junior Championship. His eighth-place finish after being the youngest player in the field, gave him the confidence he needed to begin competing in the older Boys’ Division.

He won his first Boys (16-18) event at the FJT New Smyrna Open in August.

Zhou qualified for his first USGA championship in June, earning medalist honors at the U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier at Bradenton Country Club with a 5-under 66. The China native was the youngest player in the U.S. Junior Amateur field at Daniel Island Club in July.

A third-place finish, an appearance at the U.S. Junior Amateur as the youngest player in the field, and two wins in the (16-18) division on the Florida Junior Tour earned the young Bradenton native his first Player of the Year Honors. But more notably, the youngest Boys’ Player of the Year in FSGA history.

“To win Player of the Year is amazing, but being the youngest in history to do so feels unreal,” Zhou said when he was first told about the honor.

Girls’ Junior Player of the Year

In 2023, Chloe Kovelesky made her mark against the best women golfers in the state. Kovelesky captured the victory at the 94th Women’s Amateur Championship, becoming the youngest player ever to win the prestigious event.

After earning the No. 1 seed, Kovelesky defeated Victoria Zheng, 4 and 3, in the championship match to win her second FSGA championship and her first Women’s Amateur title. Not only did she win, but she beat some big names on her way to winning, notably Katelyn Huber and Jordan Fischer, who later became the first amateur to win the Women’s Florida Open.

Shortly after that, she announced her verbal commitment to Wake Forest University, where she will be attending starting the fall of 2025.

In October, the Boca Raton native joined an elite class and represented the United States in the World Junior Girls Championship through the U.S. National Development Program. Representing the country in such a big event where she described it as “one of the most memorable experiences of my life”.

“When I received the call I was filled with excitement, as I knew I would be a part of FSGA history,” Kovelesky said when she received the call that she received the honor.

Zhou and Kovelesky will be honored at the FSGA’s Annual Dinner Orlando at The Rosen Shingle Creek in November. The Annual Dinner celebrates the best players in the state, volunteers, board members and many other important individuals involved in the game of golf in Florida.