Niblett Defends Texas Girls' Invitational Title
SUGAR LAND, Texas – Austin’s Makenzie Niblett and Dallas’ Hailey Jones battled through steady rain for over an hour during their four-hole playoff at the Texas Girls’ Invitational at Sugar Creek Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas. Niblett came away victorious after she stuffed her second shot on the par-4 18th hole to two and a half feet and tapped in her birdie. She is the only girl in the nine year history of the Texas Girls’ Invitational to win twice, let alone defend her title.
After playing their round in mostly sunny skies for the first 15 holes, Niblett, Jones and the remaining girls on the golf course had to stop playing due to lightning in the area. A light drizzle started and play resumed after a 55-minute delay. That didn’t stop Niblett and Jones from playing stellar golf down the stretch.
Playing in the penultimate group ahead of Niblett, Jones fought back from a four-shot deficit Sunday afternoon, carding a 5-under 67. After the 17th hole, Jones and Niblett were tied at 3-under for the tournament.
With Niblett on the 18th tee box, Jones stuffed her second shot to just outside of three feet, and sank her putt to take the clubhouse lead at 4-under overall. Niblett, in the fairway, saw that putt drop, and knew she had to hit a great shot into the green.
“I knew I had to make the birdie putt,” Niblett said, “but I just trusted God, and just needed to play my game.”
She hit her approach shot to just inside 20 feet and made the putt to force a playoff with Jones. Niblett carded a 1-under-par 71 in the final round.
In the playoff, both girls made pars on the first three holes. Following the first playoff hole, rain once again started to come down and it never stopped.
Both girls played tremendously in the playoff, making easy pars, until Niblett hit her second shot on the fourth playoff hole to two and a half feet. Jones, blocked by a tree and knowing that she had to give herself at least a chance at birdie, hit a spectacular hook shot around one tree and over another roughly 100 yards in front of her and landed on the green about 25 feet away.
Jones gave her birdie putt a run, but just slid by, and Niblett tapped in her birdie. The girls embraced on the green in the light rain.
With Jones, the three-time defending Girls LJT Player of the year, taking the Texas Girls’ Invitational title in 2016 at Bentwater Yacht & Country Club, and Niblett capturing the crown in 2017 at Crown Colony Country Club, the two champions battled to see who could etch their name on the “Nez Muhleman trophy for the second time.
Niblett came away victorious and defended her title at Sugar Creek’s par-72 layout. With over five and a half inches of rain the past 72 hours, the 5,934 yard Robert Trent Jones layout played much longer. Niblett knows what this title means.
“I think it is really special to have my name on [the trophy] twice. There are a lot of great players on this trophy, including Hailey, so to do it back-to-back is even more special.”
Niblett, a 2021 high school graduate, will hopefully be back to try and three-peat as champion in 2019.
McKinney’s Avery Zweig and Katy’s Elina Sinz finished in a tie for third place at 1-over-par 145 for the tournament. Sinz had a hole-in-one on the par-3 10th hole Sunday afternoon.
Jacqueline Nguyen and Symran Shah finished in a tie for fifth place, six shots back of Niblett and Jones. A trio of others finished at 3-over 147 to round out the top 10.
The legends Junior Tour would like to thank Sugar Creek Country Club, its members, staff, and board for the great hospitality during the 2018 Texas Girls’ Invitational.
The Tour heads to The Campus Course at Texas A&M for the Fall Challenge October 13-14, which will be the last ‘Open’ event on 2018 schedule.
For more information on the Texas Girls’ Invitational, please visit www.TXGA.org.
For final results, click here.