Trojans Ink Three Junior Standouts In Fall Class
Gavin Aurilia, an Arizona state champion from Phoenix, Ariz., Jackson Rivera, a three-time Rolex All-American from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Junyi Tang, a top Chinese amateur with pro tournament experience from Beijing, China, have signed National Letters of Intent with USC, Trojan Men's Golf first-year Head Coach J.T. Higgins announced today.
Aurilia, the son of longtime Major League Baseball player Rich Aurilia, is a senior at Arcadia (Ariz.) High where he is the defending Division II state champion and led his squad to a third-place state finish as the No. 2-ranked player in the state.
Aurilia, who was also fourth at the 2018 Arizona state championships, won his first AJGA title this year, capturing the AJGA Junior Pronghorn in August en route to a 12-stroke win. He won the Dobson Classic while playing for Arcadia in 2019 at 9-under 135.
His 2018 season saw a pair of second-place finishes at the AJGA Junior at Lake Merced and at the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, earning 2018 ACDS Junior All-Star team honors that year.
"Gavin will make an immediate impact on our team. His physical skills are off the charts," Higgins said. "He has competed and been successful at the highest levels of junior golf and I am most excited about his room for growth and improvement."
Rivera, a senior at Torrey Pines High in San Diego who has earned Rolex All-American honors the last three years, is the No. 2 ranked junior golfer in California and top-ranked by AJGA who won the Rancho Santa Margarita Amateur earlier this year.
He posted a pair of top 10 finishes this fall, taking second at the 2020 PING Heather Farr Classic and tying for 10th at the Se Ri Pak Desert Junior and also tied for 10th at the 2019 Jones Cup Junior Invitational.
In 2018, Rivera represented the U.S. at the biennial The Junior Open Championship on the Eden Course at St. Andrews and played for the West team at the Wyndham Cup. He also posted top 10 finishes at the PING Heather Farr Classic and at the Polo Golf Junior Classic.
"Jackson has been committed to USC since the eighth grade and has continued to shine as one of the very best juniors in the nation," Higgins said. "He is an incredibly well-rounded player, strong in all facets of the game with no glaring weaknesses. Jackson has competed successfully against the top junior players in the nation since an early age and I fully expect him to make an immediate impact on our program."
Tang, who recently played in the prestigious Sina Cup in Beijing, brings to USC a broad collection of pro tournament and amateur experience that has made him one of the top juniors in China.
He has played in four PGA Tour China events, most recently finishing third at the 2020 PGA Tour China Qualifying School, earning full exempt status. He was the low amateur at the 2019 Haikou Open (36th), made the cut at the 2018 Zhuhai Open and was the qualifier medalist at the Huangshan Open.
He has won the HSBC Junior Golf Championship twice with two other top 3 finishes and has won the Junior Golf Tour of China three times with four other top 3 finishes. He finished first at the 2018 JGTA Taiwan Junior Championship, the IMG Junior World Championship and the 2015 Golf Faith Junior Championship.
His 2019 saw a trio of runner-up finishes including at the National Amateur Classic, the AJGA Junior at Palo Alto and at the Junior World Championship China Qualifier.
"Junyi is one of the best junior golfers in the world," Higgins said. "He has earned his PGA Tour China playing card, has full status and while he is competing as an amateur, he could turn professional and have a tour to play on if he so desired. Fortunately for us, he wants to attend USC and earn a college degree. He has all the tools to compete and succeed in collegiate golf. He is polished, talented and smart on the golf course."