Wake Forest freshman Emilia Migliaccio let almost all of a seven-shot lead get away from her, but held on for a one-shot win in the South Atlantic Amateur Championship – better known as The SALLY – which concluded Saturday at Oceanside Country Club in Ormond Beach, Fla.
The second event on the unofficial Orange Blossom Tour of women’s amateur events in the Sunshine State, much like the first, the Harder Hall Women’s Invitational a week earlier, was affected by the ridiculously cold weather that has hit the eastern half of the country in the first two weeks of 2018. A cold rain forced the opening round of the scheduled 72-hole event to be cancelled and shortened it to 54 holes.
The final round was played in cold and windy conditions and Migliaccio of Cary, N.C. handled it well enough to post a final round of 2-over-par 74 that gave her a 5-under 211 total and a one-shot margin of victory over Atlantic Coast Conference rival Anna Redding, a junior at Virginia.
Redding of Concord, N.C. and a junior rival of Migliaccio’s in North Carolina closed with a final round of 4-under 68 to finish one shot behind at 4-under 212.
Redding has played some of her best golf in the Women’s North & South Amateur at the Pinehurst Resort in her home state of North Carolina. She fell in the final to Mexican phenom Isabella Fierro last summer.
Redding trailed Migliaccio by a shot and reached the par-5 17th hole at Oceanside in two, but Migliaccio holed a clutch 20-foot birdie putt to maintain her one-shot edge while Redding settled for a two-putt birdie.
Among the other standout collegians in the field was North Carolina sophomore Brynn Walker, a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Radnor. Walker was at her best in the tough conditions of the final round, firing a 3-under 69 to finish in a four-way tie for 10th at 9-over 225. Walker had struggled to a pair of 78s in her first two rounds at Oceanside.
The final round is a good sign for Walker, who will be hoping to help the Tar Heels earn a return trip to the NCAA Championship when the spring portion of the college season gets under way next month.
Migliaccio, one of a legion of freshman standouts on the collegiate scene, opened The SALLY with a sparkling 7-under 65 Thursday, a score matched by Baylor freshman Diane Baillieux of Belgium.
Migliaccio matched par in Friday’s second round with a 72 to take a commanding seven-shot lead over Baillieux, who struggled to a 79, and Redding, who carded her second straight even-par 72.
A couple more of Migliaccio’s fellow freshman standouts, Florida State’s Amanda Doherty of Atlanta and Texas’ Kaitlyn Papp of Austin, Texas, finished third and fourth, respectively. Doherty carded a 1-under 71 to finish alone in third, four shots behind Redding at even-par 216.
Papp, who teamed with future Texas teammate Hailee Cooper to win the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Streamsong Blue in central Florida, matched par in the final round to finish a shot behind Doherty at 1-over 217.
An interesting name popped up alone in fifth place, that of 2015 winner of The SALLY and 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur runnerup Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Fla. Brooks carded a steady 1-over 73 in the final round for a 4-over 220 total.
Brooks played the first half of her freshman year at Wake Forest in the fall of 2016 then left the program while dealing with a wrist injury that was slow to heal. It seemed Brooks was going to turn pro, but last fall she announced she’s returning to college golf at Florida.
I’m not sure if Brooks is eligible to compete for the Gators this spring, but if she is, it would be a big boost for reigning Southeast Conference champion Florida. The good news is that after a year of frustrating rehab for the wrist injury, it looks like Brooks’ game is starting to round into shape again.
Baylor’s Baillieux struggled again the final round with a 78, but still finished tied for sixth at 6-over 222.
Sharing sixth with Baillieux was Florida senior Taylor Tomlinson of Gainesville, Fla. Tomlinson opened with a 1-under 71 and added rounds of 76 and 75 for a 6-over 222 total.
Sneaking into eighth place among all the youngsters was 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach of Hebron, Ky. The 55-year-old Leach finished up with her second straight 1-over 73 to end up at 7-over 223.
Haeley Wotnosky, a Virginia commit from Wake Forest, N.C., carded a 2-over 74 in the final round to finish alone in ninth at 8-over 224.
Also in the foursome tied with Walker for 10th at 9-over 225 was 13-year-old phenom Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Fla. Pano, who finished tied for third in The SALLY a year ago, finished strong with a 1-over 73. Pano qualified for match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at San Diego Country Club as a 12-year-old last summer, falling in the first round to Mexico’s Fierro.
Notre Dame junior Emma Albrecht, the Ormand Beach native playing on her home course at Oceanside, was also in the foursome tied for 10th at 225. Albrecht, invited to the NCAA’s Columbus Regional as an individual last spring, struggled in the opening round with an 80, but got it together with solid rounds of 72 and 73 to earn a spot in the top 10.
The last member of the quartet tied for 10th was Ramya Meenakshisundaram, a South Florida recruit from Jacksonville, Fla. Meenakshisundaram sandwiched a 77 in the second round with a pair of 74s to end up at 225.
There was also a Rockefeller Division in The SALLY, which was won by Renata Jancsik, who, from what I can tell, is a scholastic standout at Ponte Vedra High School in Florida. After opening with an 88, Jancsik carded solid rounds of 81 and 79 for a 248.
Not sure what the criteria for the Rockefeller Division was, but it was not age because the runnerup to Jancsik was the ageless Liz Haines of Merion Golf Club.
Haines was 69 when she qualified for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur last summer and I’m not sure if she’s turned 70 since then. But Haines can still play some pretty solid golf as she had rounds of 83, 86 and 92 for a 251 total.