Claggett, Barber to Meet in Girls Match Play Championship Finals
THE COLONY – Tillie Claggett from The Woodlands and Savannah Barber from Fort Worth will meet Sunday in the Final match of the Girls Match Play Championship with a spot in an upcoming LPGA event on the line. Claggett and Barber on Saturday advanced to the Finals after respectfully winning their closely contested Semifinal matches at Old American Golf Club.
Claggett, a junior at The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, found herself 2 down with three holes to play against Richardson’s Meagan Winans. Claggett made a 60-foot bomb for birdie on the par-3 16th hole to get to 1 down with two holes to play. The long putt shifted momentum in the match. Claggett on the next hole nestled a delicate chip shot to 3 feet and made another birdie. The future Vanderbilt Commodores golfer then calmly rolled in a 23-foot birdie on the 18th hole to win the match, 1 up.
“Coming in on 16, I had a really, really long birdie putt,” said Claggett, who played her way into the inaugural Girls Match Play Championship with a win at the Southern Texas PGA Prestige Tour’s 2020 Mid-Summer Classic. “I just stepped up to it, and I had this feeling that it was going to good. On 17, I love that hole, it’s a par 5. I can get there in two. I birdied that one. On 18, I just knew I had to make that putt.”
She did, and now she’s potentially 18 holes away from earning a spot in the 2020 Volunteers of America Classic, to be played back at Old American from Dec. 3-6.
“I love match play,” Claggett said. “It’s going to be fun no matter what. I love the golf course, just loving having the opportunity. However it goes, it’s going to be a good time.”
Claggett will face Barber, a Spring Creek Academy junior who recently committed to Oklahoma. Barber needed 20 holes to defeat her close friend and roommate at Crown Golf Academy in Arlington, Alexa Saldana from Naucalpan, Mexico.
Barber was 1 up through 14 holes when play was suspended because of lightning in the area at 4:18 p.m. The delay lasted a little more than an hour. When play resumed, Saldana promptly birdied the short par-4 15th to draw even in the match. Saldana had a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to pull ahead, but she missed.
The two competitors tied with pars on 18th and 19th holes. On the next hole, the par-5 second at Old American, Barber poured in a 6-footer for par to win the match in 20 holes.
“It was great to play with Alexa,” said Barber, who qualified for the Girls Match Championship through her top-20 ranking in the Legend Junior Tour’s 2020 Player of the Year points race. “We play a lot of golf together. Being out here and competing together was awesome.”
In its first year, the Girls Match Play Championship is a joint venture of the Texas Junior Golf Alliance. Sixteen of the state’s top junior girls earned their way into the single-elimination, match play championship through their performances on the LJT, Northern Texas PGA All-American Tour and the Southern Texas PGA Prestige Tour.
The TJGA partnered with the LPGA, the Volunteers of America and Old American and created this thrilling opportunity for one high school girl to compete in an LPGA event.
“The Girls Match Play Championship delivers on our vision of providing Texans with opportunities for world-class competition in their home state,” TGA Executive Director Stacy Dennis said. “Providing our juniors with an opportunity to experience an LPGA event is a unique opportunity to help inspire our players.”
The TJGA has produced many professional female golfers during the past several years. Last year’s VOA Classic champion, Cheyenne Knight of Aledo, played on the NTPGA All-American Tour and was a two-time LJT champion. Other prominent alliance alumni include two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman of Austin and 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis of The Woodlands.
The championship match begins Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information on the Girls Match Play Championship, click here.