Several years ago, Lauren Stephenson made a unique decision for a young golfer with abundant talent.
She chose to go to a school, Clemson, which was in the fledgling stages of starting a women’s golf program.
“I was in ninth grade when they announced they were going to have a women’s team,” Stephenson said. “I was choosing the school itself more than the golf program.”
On Saturday, Stephenson, now a Clemson freshman, added a piece of early history to the Tigers’ golf program as she won the Dixie Amateur Women’s Championship at TPC Eagle Trace Golf Club in Coral Springs. Stephenson, like everyone in the field, had to fight cold, blustery winds the entire round before she finished at 67-71-69-74—281 to claim the winner’s trophy.
Finishing second, two strokes back, was Maria Fassi of Mexico at 68-76-68-71—283.
“I realized it was going to be a long, tough day,” Stephenson said of the conditions. “Most of the holes were into the wind.”
Key to Stephenson’s victory was an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole, where she hit a second-shot with a 5-wood onto the green and then made a 20-foot putt. That sent her from 2-over-par to even, and then she wisely played steadily the rest of the way except for bogeys on 16 and 17.
“It was the type of day when you had to take both the good and bad,” Stephenson said.
And then with a huge smile, she could not help but comment on Clemson’s football team.
“They will win the national title — no doubt,” she vowed. “I love everything about this school.”
Orange Bowl Doral-Publix Junior Classic: Eight-year-old Tristan Wieland failed to break Rory McIlroy’s 17-year-old tournament record of 54, but Wieland still won the 8-9 division at 27-37—64. Other boys’ winners were Jude Kim in 12-13 at 72-73—145, Allan Kournikova in 10-11 at 80-71—51 and Jessy Huebner in 7-under at 29-34—63.
Winners in the girls’ divisions were Cory Lopez in 12-13 at 73-75—148, Skylee Shin in 10-11 at 34-38—72, Sofia Temelo in 8-9 at 35-36—71 and Elle Reisner in 7-under at 40-36—76.
BILL VAN SMITH
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