Around the Green
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Annika Clark Wins Medalist Honors at 96th WTGA State Am
BRYAN – TCU junior Annika Clark birdied half of her final six holes Tuesday during the Qualifying Round of the 96th WTGA State Amateur Championship at Traditions Club. The Highlands native finished at 3-under-par 69 to earn Medalist honors.
Already a TGA Major Champion, Clark won the 94th playing of the WTGA State Amateur in 2015 at Ridgewood Country Club in Waco. Sharp with her irons and wielding a hot putter, Clark put herself in good position again. Along with the Medalist honors comes the No. 1 overall seed headed into the 32-player match play bracket, which will be contested throughout the remainder of the week.
“I was pretty solid all the way around today,” said Clark, who recorded two top-10s for TCU last season. “I made quite a few birdies. The whole day I was just making some really good putts. I had four feet pretty much all day for par, so it just felt really solid.”
Clark won the Qualifying Round by three shots over Oklahoma State senior Maddie McCrary from Wylie, Bowling Green junior Erin Fahey from Austin and University of Houston junior Allie Anderson from The Woodlands. McCrary, Fahey and Anderson each shot even-par rounds of 72 on the demanding Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II-designed golf course perched about a 3-wood from the Texas A&M campus.
Five players tied for fifth place at 1-over 73. Among them are UH senior Megan Thothong, the Dallas native who won the 2015 Women’s Stroke Play Championship and The Woodlands’ Brooke McDougald, a junior at TCU and teammate of Clark’s. Also sharing fifth place are Victoria’s Chloe Velasco, a Texas A&M junior and one of three Aggies playing on home soil this week, Orange’s Lauren Cox, a junior at North Texas, and Lauren Comegys, a James Madison University sophomore from Austin.
The 88-player field faced hot and humid conditions Tuesday. By 10 a.m., the temperature already was north of 95 degrees. In the late afternoon as players finished their rounds, the mercury touched 97 with a heat index of 106.
Julie Lucio was the Junior Medalist at 5-over 77. The senior at Rancho Viejo High School was a three-time winner this year on in Southern Texas PGA Junior Golf events. She finished tied for 23rd place, earning a spot in the Championship Flight match play bracket.
Leslie Henry from Ennis shared the Senior Medalist honors with Kelley Nittoli from San Antonio. They each shot 10-over 82 and tied for 40th place overall.
Thirty-two players advanced to the Championship Flight for match play. The remaining players are placed into flights according to their GHIN Handicap Index.
Clark said she didn’t plan on making too many strategic adjustments as match play ensues Wednesday morning.
“There are a couple holes out there I might approach differently,” she said. “There’s a hole out there where you can take driver towards the green, and I think may do that. Other than that, I had a pretty aggressive mindset out there today. I’ll keep that going into match play and be really aggressive on the birdie putts.”
Home to the Texas A&M Men’s and Women’s golf teams, Traditions Club offers myriad challenges from tee to green. The fairways twist and turn throughout stately hardwoods, while natural creeks and wetlands loom on the edges. From certain spots on the course, golfers are greeted with views of the campus and Kyle Field, home of the 12th Man and some of the most passionate college football fans on earth.
The private club has played host to numerous elite events, including the 2011 NCAA Women’s Championship. An NCAA Women’s Regional tournament was played here in 2016; next year it will host an NCAA Men’s Regional. Ranked 45th in the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 courses in Texas, Traditions Club also weclomed the 2015 Texas Four-Ball Championship, 2014 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship and annually hosts the Aggie Invitational.
Throughout the rich history of the WTGA State Amateur, the championship has produced an impressive list of winners. In all, 13 past champions have been elected into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, including four who went on to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The Round of 32 begins Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.