She’s one of the youngest players at Augusta. She also might win

gianna clemente hits a tee shot during the opening round of the 2024 augusta national women's amateur

Gianna Clemente is one of the youngest competitors in the Augusta National Women's Amateur field. She's also one of the most talented.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — As Gianna Clemente walks through the crowds behind the 18th green at Champions Retreat, it’s easy to mistake her for a fan. With a cake pop in one hand and her phone in the other, she blends in well with the young girls seeking autographs.

As Clemente nears the throngs camped out clutching yellow flags and sharpies, though, she becomes the center of attention. Once the girls realize she’s a competitor in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, they swarm her for her signature.

Although she’s just 16 years old — one of the youngest players in this year’s field — this isn’t anything new for Clemente. With one of the most decorated resumes of any teenager in the field this week at Augusta National, it’s likely a matter of when, not if, she’ll become a star at the next level.

“I don’t necessarily see a limit to what she can achieve,” says her coach, Jorge Parada. “She can compete right now with any age, any level, in my opinion.”

If there’s anyone qualified to make that kind of assessment, it’s Parada. He’s coached the likes of Carlota Ciganda, Anna Nordqvist and Lydia Ko, and is widely considered one of the brightest young minds in golf instruction. He met Clemente when she played various practice rounds with his LPGA pupils at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., and the two have worked together in an official capacity since last fall.

“It’s just a matter of where she wants to go and how hungry she is,” Parada says. “What she’s willing to do to elevate her game and to dominate.”

That rise to dominance could come as soon as Saturday. Through two rounds of ANWA, Clemente is three under par — and just two shots behind the pace set by Lottie Woad. Clemente will go off in the final group during the final round and with a great shot to become the third teenaged winner of this event.

Meet the youngest competitor teeing it up at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur
By: Zephyr Melton

Battling with the best players in the world is nothing new for the teenager, though. At the age of 7, she won the U.S. Kids World Championship at Pinehurst. When she was 11, she became the third-youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Three years later, she Monday-qualified into three straight LPGA events. She also owns a victory at the Sally Championship, the Girls’ Junior PGA Championship and the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball.

“[Being young] is something that I’m pretty used to by now,” Clemente told last year. “I’ve been the youngest for at least a couple years now in every event that I play in. It’s a very comfortable feeling for me. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

Clemente qualified for her first ANWA in 2023, went on to make the cut and finished T14 in her debut. Now, she’ll look to match Anna Davis as the youngest winner in the event’s short history, all while being years younger than her competitors.

Watch Clemente play — and speaking with the future star — you’d never know she lagged behind her peers in experience. Her clubhead speed is already on par with LPGA average; combine that with elite distance control with her irons and she can hold her own when playing against the pros. At last season’s season-opening Epson Tour event, she finished tied for 16th.

That’s to say nothing of her confidence and maturity, both of which far outpace her age. She exudes such poise that when she sat next to Augusta National member Condoleezza Rice at a dinner last year, the former Secretary of State assumed she was already in college.

“She’s extremely mature for her age,” Parada says. “She doesn’t necessarily see herself as someone as young as she is.”

Augusta National has long been known as a course that rewards experience. But as Clemente continues to prove, age is just a number.

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