DALLAS—Rylee Pedigo from Fort Worth won medalist honors Tuesday with a strong 1-under-par 70 during the 95th WTGA State Amateur Championship’s Qualifying Round.
Played at historic Brook Hollow Golf Club, the University of Oklahoma junior rolled in three birdies to post the lowest score from the field of 88 of the state’s top amateurs. Pedigo was the only player to post an under-par score on a sun-splashed day with temperatures hovering in the high 90s.
“My putting was phenomenal,” Pedigo said with a huge smile. “I just felt really good. I also hit 15 greens in regulation. So that helped, too.”
Pedigo came in one stroke better than defending champion Annika Clark, a TCU sophomore from Highlands, and Mansfield’s Rachel Smith, a mid-amateur veteran who has played in the past three U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships. The top 32 players on the leaderboard advanced to the 95th WTGA State Amateur’s Championship Bracket.
The remainder of the tournament features match play format. The 56 players who didn’t qualify for the Championship Bracket were seeded in flights based on their GHIN Handicap Indexes.
Pedigo came into the state’s oldest and most prestigious women’s amateur championship riding a wave of positive vibes. She scored two top-10 finishes for Oklahoma during 2015-16 season. That included a runner-up performance at Notre Dame’s Clover Cup in March, during which she shot 5-under 211 for 54 holes. She said she was beyond excited to play the tree-lined, diabolically bunkered Brook Hollow GC. The shot-maker’s course features receptive and speedy bentgrass greens and a variety of long and short holes that all require thoughtful strategy. The par-71 course was designed in 1920 by A.W. Tillinghast, the same designer who built New Jersey’s Baltusrol Golf Club, site of this week’s PGA Championship.
A longtime advocate of amateur golf, Brook Hollow GC has played host to a record nine Texas Amateur championships, as well as the 1987 U.S. Mid-Amateur, the 1928 Southern Amateur and seven Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championships. Pedigo said she bragged about her opportunity to play one of the finest old-school courses in this part of the country to her father Kevin, a former UNLV golfer and three-time club champion at Fort Worth’s Mira Vista Country Club.
“I heard this place was killer,” Pedigo said. “When I told my dad we were playing here, he said, ‘Sometimes I wish I was a girl.’ I felt like I was on Cloud Nine all day because this place is in such great condition.”
Clark, last year’s WTGA State Amateur champion with a 3-and-2 win over Maddy Rayner at Ridgewood CC in Waco, played consistently during her even-par round of 71. She said she felt some pressure last month at the Women’s Stroke Play Championship because most people recognized her as the reigning WTGA State Amateur champion.
“I realized there’s no point in feeling that pressure,” said Clark, who made one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars. “So I approached this week with a different mindset. I’m treating it like a clean slate. It’s just another tournament. On the first few greens I was a little shaky on speed and line, but it was all right after that.”
Rayner, last year’s runner-up, shot a 3-over 74. She tied for seventh place and comfortably advanced to the Championship Bracket.
Smith, who shared Tuesday’s runner-up Qualifying honors with Clark at even-par 71, made four birdies to offset as many bogeys. Like Pedigo and Clark, Smith was pleased with how she performed on the greens. She played at Brook Hollow at a Qualifier for the 2005 U.S. Girls Junior Amateur and said she remembered the tricky greens and challenging bunker complexes.
“I’ve been practicing a lot on my chipping and putting back at my home club, Walnut Creek Country Club,” said Smith, who advanced to the third round of match play at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “I work in the tournament office for the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial. The GM there was really kind to me and let me play Colonial last week to help me prepare for this week.”
The first round of match play begins Wednesday at 8 a.m. For more information on the 95th WTGA State Amateur, including complete scoring, click here.
At the conclusion of this year, the Texas Golf Association will award the inaugural Women’s Player of the Year award. The honor is determined by a season-long points’ race. Points are awarded at varying levels for regional, state and national competitions. The winner of the 95th WTGA State Amateur earns points, the most allocated for any statewide championship.
The yearlong celebration of the 100th year of Women’s Golf in Texas – known as Breaking 100 – continues during the 95th WTGA State Amateur. Icons of the game Sandra Haynie, Kathy Whitworth and Marty Leonard will be on hand this week at Brook Hollow. For more information on Breaking 100, including how to secure tickets for the Nov. 1 Gala in Houston, click here