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14-year-old Gianna Clemente will be youngest in the field

14-year-old Gianna Clemente will be youngest in the field

Gianna Clemente watched Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi battle in 2019 at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur and, like so many, thought: I really want to do that.

Clemente, 14, will be the youngest player in the field at this year’s event, but it still took longer to get there than she expected. Clemente became the youngest player to Monday-qualify for three consecutive LPGA events last year, and the only part of that stretch that surprised her coach, Spencer Graham, was that she didn’t make the cut in any of them.

Clemente, who turns 15 on March 23, isn’t the favorite at this year’s ANWA, which will be held March 29-April 1, the week before the 87th Masters. That would be Rose Zhang, the Stanford super sophomore who first rose to No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings back in September 2020. It’s worth noting, however, that junior golfers have won the past two ANWAs, with 16-year-old Anna Davis winning last year and Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani triumphing in 2021 at age 17.

Clemente, who is set to graduate in 2026, heads into this week’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley as the No. 1 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings. She’s No. 57 in the WAGR. At age 11, she became the third-youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“Seeing the invitation on my front doorstep was like, woah,” said Clemente, who recently tied for 16th at the Epson Tour’s season-opening event in Winter Haven, Florida, a field that included a number of card-carrying LPGA members and two major champions.

The Clemente family poured a lot into golf early on, with the family deciding to split their time between Ohio and Florida after Gianna finished the third grade. That’s also when she made the switch to online school.

“I remember them kind of sitting me down and saying ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking about doing, would you be OK with that?’ ” said Gianna. “Obviously 8-year-old me was like ‘Oh yeah, sure, why not?’ I don’t think I fully realized what I was getting myself into at the time. But I’m glad I did it. Obviously, it wouldn’t work out for everybody. It’s not meant for everybody. But it worked out for me, and it’s working pretty good right now.”

Gianna Clemente and her father Patrick (courtesy Epson Tour)

Patrick Clemente called it a weather-dominated decision. He and his wife Julia saw a spark in their daughter’s eyes and a desire to get out and practice more than Ohio winters…


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