14-year-old Gianna Clemente makes history at Kruger Queen City | LPGA

When Patrick Clemente sent emails to tournament organizers asking them to consider giving his 14-year-old daughter Gianna exceptions in Monday’s qualifiers, he kept expectations low. While it’s easier to get the two gold tickets that sponsors hold for invitees to go straight to their tournaments, qualifying spots are still valuable, especially for players who don’t have LPGA Tour status.

Giving a place on Monday to a child is a risk. Being a former Youngstown University golfer, Patrick knew this. He also knew that his daughter, who was the youngest ever winner of the AJGA Ping Invitational at 13 (one of the biggest events on the junior circuit), got a good shot.

At the time of those emails, little did he know that Gianna would make the US Girls’ Championship finals.

No one from the Clemente family expected her to make history.

But sometimes the date explodes in your mouth and you find yourself saying, “Holy smoke, did that really happen?”

This is where they are now. On a sloppy day, stop and start on a Monday – the kind of rainy day where you have to be either in a great mood or a bad marriage until you end up on a golf course – Gianna Clemente wandered around Kenwood Country Club in suburban Cincinnati at a 7 lower rate to win the playoffs Eligible for the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G. In doing so, Gianna became the second player in history as of Monday to qualify for three consecutive LPGA Tour events. The other was Hee Won Han in 2001. At the time, Han was 23 years old. Clemente turned 14 in March.

“I think it kind of sank this morning,” Clemente said of her achievement, although matching the record set seven years before she was born isn’t something you’d expect a 14-year-old to realize.

“Last night was kind of crazy because we were trying to get back to the hotel and stuff,” Gianna said. “We came back really late, and I didn’t have time to think about it. I woke up this morning and said, ‘Oh, I’m going to another LPGA event today.’ It was crazy this morning thinking about the last three weeks and the playoffs.”

When she qualified for the CP Women’s Open at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, Clemente looked like a newbie, another young teen catching lightning in a bottle. But a week later, not far from her hometown of Warren, Ohio, she did it again, winning the playoffs to the Dana Open and beating a healthy group of well-known tour players.

This time, she polluted the playing field. Two of the 22 players who tried to qualify on Monday broke 70. Clemente had a shot of 65 and Banarat Thanbolbonnaras’ shot of 68.

“We’ve been trying to get a little grounded and get to know some people who can help us with waivers in the future,” Gianna said of her and Patrick’s actions. “My dad sent some emails. Not all of them responded. But even the eligible exemptions on Monday were glad I hadn’t done that before.

“My dad said, ‘I think you’re going to go into two parts. I ended up with three. They just happened to be back-to-back.

“The CP was great because we had four positions (available in the playoffs, instead of the standard two). I didn’t have to shoot too low. In Al Dana, I played well too. Obviously (Kruger Queen City) was my best. It was great. To be among the three, let alone qualify for all three.”

She hasn’t cut yet. This is the next goal.

“It’s less immersive now,” she said. “It’s less stressful, especially with my dad here to help. It’s getting less and less stressful as the weeks go by.

“The biggest surprise to me, honestly, is how casual it is here, especially in the training rounds. Everyone just does what they do. Some people care about me because I’m kind of young for this. But I expected it to be, not necessarily strict, though That that’s the best word I can use, but probably more formal. In the end, people just play golf.”

Not all of them play like Clemente. Longtime client Jay Burton, who fell for legends like Laura Davis and Lisalot Newman as teenagers, said of Clemente, “I’ve seen a lot of young teens. And ever since Lydia (Ko) saw a child I said, ‘Yes, that girl can She succeeds.” But I see the same in Gianna. She just has poise and maturity in her game and in managing her own course that you don’t find at 14.”

From Cincinnati, Clemente heads to France for the Amondi Junior Evian Cup. Then to southwest Florida where the family spends seven months a year.

“I look forward to seeing my friends again and back to what I consider a ‘normal’ tournament,” she said. “It would be fun to come back. I don’t want to call it a transition, because at the end of the day we just play golf. But I haven’t played a real, regular golf tournament in a while. I’m looking forward to it.”

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