Six years ago, Clemente competed at the storied club in the national Drive, Chip & Putt competition. The then-8-year-old was pint-sized and bright-eyed, soaking in every moment among the pines and azaleas. She finished 7th in her age group, capping an unforgettable day at the most famous course in the country.
This week, she’ll return to Augusta, this time hoping to win the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work to prep for not only this event, but the other events that I’ve had this spring as well,” Clemente told GOLF.com. “I’m looking forward to it, and, hopefully, shooting some good numbers.”
At 15, Clemente will be the youngest competitor in the 72-player field. But don’t mistake her age for inexperience. Her CV is long and impressive.
When she was 11, Clemente qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur, becoming the third-youngest to ever compete in the event. Last summer, she successfully played her way into three straight LPGA events. Earlier this year, she finished T16 at the Epson Tour’s season-opening event. And that’s not to mention her success on the junior and amateur circuits, including a win at the Sally Championship and runner-up finish at the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Clemente is now the top-ranked junior in the country, and she’s also inside the top 60 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She might be young, but that doesn’t mean she’s intimidated by the stage Augusta National presents.
“[Being young] is something that I’m pretty used to by now,” Clemente said. “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 and I’m just looking forward to playing some good golf.”
Clemente has been training for opportunities like these her entire life. She first picked up a club at the age of 18 months, and played in her first tournament when she was 5. At 7, she won the U.S. Kids World Championship at Pinehurst. The following year, she went fully remote with her schooling as her family split time between Ohio and Florida. At 11, she was the top-ranked girl’s golfer in her age group.
Now, four years later, Clemente heads back to Augusta hoping to cement her place in the amateur game’s lore.
“I think I can definitely compete with the best of the best,” she said. “I’d be lying if I said I’d be happy if I missed the cut, but it should be a good experience either way.”