14-Year-Old Qualifies For Third Consecutive LPGA Tour Event

Gianna Clemente hopes to make her first cut after winning her place in an LPGA Tour event for the third week running

Gianna Clemente has become just the second player to Monday-qualify for three straight LPGA events - and she's only 14-years-old
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A 14-year-old from Ohio has become just the second player in LPGA history to Monday-qualify for three straight LPGA events.

Gianna Clemente is playing the Kroger Queen City Championship this week in Kenwood, Cincinnati, having won entry in the Monday qualifier, just as she did at both the CP Women’s Open and the Dana Open over the previous two weeks. There has only been one run like that previously, and when Hee-Won Han won her three straight qualifiers in 2001, she was 23.

Gianna made her third straight LPGA event with a dominant qualifying performance, firing a 7-under par 65, three better than anyone else. With two spots into the main event, she actually made it by five shots.

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

“CP was cool because we had four spots (available in the qualifier, instead of the standard two). I didn’t have to shoot super low. At the Dana, I played well, too. Obviously, (Kroger Queen City) was my best. It was cool to be in all three, much less to qualify into all three. It’s a little less overwhelming now. It’s a little less stressful, especially with my dad here to help. It has become less overwhelming as the weeks have gone on.”

Patrick Clemente, a former college golfer at Youngstown State, sent a raft of emails to tournament organisers asking them to grant his daughter exemptions into their Monday qualifiers. While not as coveted as the two tickets sponsors hold to invite players into the main draw, even getting a qualifying spot as an unknown is some achievement.

As the youngest ever winner of one of the most prestigious junior competitions, the AJGA Ping Invitational, and having since made the finals of the US Girls Junior, Gianna has been given chances, and she’s grabbing them with both hands.

“We were trying to get the lay of the land a little bit and get to know some people who could help us with exemptions in the future,” Gianna told LPGA.com “Dad sent out some emails. Not all of them responded. But even the Monday qualifier exemptions we were happy with because I’d never done that before. My dad said, ‘I think you’re going to get into two.’ I ended up getting into three. They just happened to be back-to-back-to-back.”

Renowned agent Jay Burton, who signed Laura Davies and Lisalotte Neumann when they were teenagers, told LPGA.com that Gianna is the best player he’s seen since Lydia Ko’s breakthrough nearly 10 years ago. He said: “I’ve seen a lot of young teenagers. And not since Lydia have I seen a kid that I’ve said, ‘Yeah, that girl can make it.’ But I see the same thing in Gianna. She just has a poise and maturity in her game and in her course management that you don’t find in 14-year-olds.”

Despite only having turned 14 in March, Gianna is hoping to use her experience, gained over the past couple of weeks, to help achieve her next goal - making the cut. It will be her last chance, at least for a while, with a trip to France for the Amundi Junior Evian Cup next up, before heading to Florida, where the family spends seven months of the year.

Jeff Kimber
Freelance Staff Writer

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!