Around the Green
The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.
LJT Strength on Display at U.S. Women’s Four-Ball
Local standouts and current Legends Junior Tour players Alexa Saldana and Savannah Barber defeated Jillian Bourdage and Casey Weidenfeld, 5 and 4, in the championship match to win the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton.
The 17-year-olds defied odds all week. They each came into the event ranked in the 1500s of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®. Prior to match play they each had to prevail through two rounds of stroke play. At the end of stroke play the duo entered the match play portion of the championship as the 26th seed.
But for Saldana and Barber this victory did not come as a surprise. “We’ve been preparing for this for a few weeks,” said Saldana, “and we [thought we] had a good chance of winning.”
The pair had to win five matches to be crowned champion. Through their first three matches they never reached the 16th hole. A dominating stretch of golf for the roommates at Crown Golf Academy in Arlington.
In their semifinal match Saldana and Barber were taken to 20 holes by the youngest team in the field, Gianna Clemente and Avery Zweig, but eventually prevailed.
In the final match Saldana rolled in a long birdie putt on the 14th hole to capture the title over Bourdage and Weidenfeld. The birdie marked the third consecutive hole won by Saldana and Barber.
The girls are also current standouts on the Legends Junior Tour with prior experience in match play.
“The tour prides itself on giving fair tests to players and helping them grow for the next level,” said Kevin Porter, LJT Tournament Director. “Alexa and Savannah have experience in match play, which is key at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.”
The two have notable finishes on the LJT recently. Saldana finished third at the 2020 George Hannon Junior Invitational, while Barber finished sixth. Barber finished runner-up at both the 2019 Texas Junior Amateur and at the 2020 Girls Match Play Championship (beating Saldana in the semifinals).
Saldana and Barber are the latest in a long line of Legends Junior Tour players past and present to make history on the national scene recently.
For the third time in six years, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball championship final featured LJT alumni. In 2016, Hailee Cooper of Montgomery and Kaitlyn Papp of Austin won the national title at Streamsong Resort in the second year of the event.
Cole Hammer recently won individual medalist honors at the Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship held April 26-28 at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kan. and Will Zalatoris finished runner-up at the 2021 Masters earlier in the month.
Pierceson Coody, the 2015 Legends Junior Tour Player of the Year, currently sits as the top ranked amateur golfer in the world.
Just as the above-mentioned current and former LJT players have proven their mettle in the national spotlight, so too has Maridoe.
This was the first time the TGA Member Club played host to a USGA event, but it has been a haven for elite amateur championships since it opened for play in 2017.
Among much else, Maridoe has previously hosted the 2017 Texas Shootout (won by the North Team), the 2018 Texas Four-Ball (won by Jace Moore and Jordan Woolf), the 2019 Trans-Miss Championship (won by Pierceson Coody) and the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur (won by Christopher Wheeler).
“Maridoe has been a great partner of the Texas Golf Association ever since the club opened its doors,” said Kellen Kubasak, TGA’s Director of Competitions. “The membership and staff have always been very welcoming and accommodating to the TGA. The golf course, typically the star of the show, always demands the very best out of the players, where great shots will get rewarded and decent or bad shots will most likely end up in difficult positions.”
In just a few short years, the Steve Smyers-designed course has earned a reputation as a comprehensive test of a player’s shot-making and course management skills. The list of winners at Maridoe proves only those in total command of their game will come out on top. Saldana and Barber showed this to be true during their title march in the 6th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.
Maridoe earned high praise as host of this year’s championship, which included the best women amateur golfers from 32 states and seven countries.
“It’s the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the USGA,” said Marc Wielgosz, Director of Golf at Maridoe. “We hope it continues to grow and flourish as the years move on.”
“Maridoe was a great partner, and we’re thrilled to have staged a successful first championship of 2021. As with all our host venues, we will speak with club leadership and have discussions around what a USGA championship future looks like once we let the dust settle from this one,” said Mark Hill, the USGA’S Managing Director, Championships.
The club’s leadership and staff might take a moment to savor the moment of hosting their first USGA championship, but they’ll be right back at it, planning and preparing for the next big event, which hopefully will be in the not too distant future.
For more information on the 6th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, click here.