Emilia Migliaccio (AGC photo)
SEBRING, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2019) – This story – at least, a very similar one – has played out before. Exactly a year has passed since Emilia Migliaccio scored a breakthrough win at the Sally Amateur up the road in Ormond Beach, Fla., adding her name to a long and distinguished list of women’s golf up-and-comers.
Last year, Migliaccio played through a biting wind off the Atlantic, but on Saturday at the Harder Hall, there were different obstacles. Namely, a good friend in the group ahead, Lei Ye, who went lights out in the final round and forced three extra holes. Migliaccio, a Wake Forest sophomore, came out on top.
Only five under-par rounds went on the books over 72 holes at Harder Hall Country Club. Migliaccio (71) and Ye (68) turned in two of those on Sunday. Ye, playing in the next-to-last group in a final-round shotgun, had five birdies on her card. Migliaccio had to birdie the final hole to keep up with her.
The two teenagers have been friends since meeting three years ago on the junior golf circuit. Last year, Ye won the 2018 Annika Invitational the same weekend Migliaccio was winning the Sally.
On Saturday, Ye ultimately sailed a 5-iron out of bounds on the third extra hole and settled for second – not that there was anything close to bad blood about that. Ye, an IMG Academy student committed to play for Stanford next fall, had her arm around Migliaccio’s waist for most of her friend’s post-round interview.
“It’s always difficult (playing against a friend) but the more you do it, it’s not like you’re really playing against the other person,” Migliaccio said.
Added Ye, “It’s not like the other person is going to hate you.”
Two years and two trophies later, Migliaccio’s January track record remains perfect considering she won both events in her first start. Rather than defend her Sally title in another week, Migliaccio has to go back to Wake Forest. She chose to put that in a positive light, a choice she makes often.
“Both of those tournaments are so special,” Migliaccio said. “I’m so fortunate that – blessing in disguise – I couldn’t play the Sally and could come down here.”
The Harder Hall has a different kind of vibe than many other high-caliber amateur events. Part of that is its small-town setting. Applause erupted around the 18th green when Migliaccio ended regulation with a three-foot birdie putt. Fifteen minutes later, a small army of carts followed she and Ye around the first three holes.
Migliaccio received a hand-carved trophy for her efforts crafted by a Sebring local. Her name will be added, in gold paint, to a wooden scorebard that runs the length of the Harder Hall Country Club restaurant. There are plenty of LPGA players’ names already there.
When Migliaccio gets home from Sebring, she has an invitation to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship waiting.
The opportunities these days, as Migliaccio’s mother Ulrika noted post-round, are much wider for talented female players like Emilia. Ulrika played college golf at Arizona from 1991-95 – overlapping Annika Sorenstam for a year. She also played on the Swedish National Team, which is how she came across Pia Nilsson, a fellow Swedish player (and coach) who is now a renowned mental coach at Vision54.
Emilia spent a week of Christmas break in 2016 and 2017 working with Vision54 coaches to improve her mental game. It was a big reason for her Sally victory, but this year, she reached that point that she didn’t need another tune-up. There’s no shortage of tools in Emilia’s back pocket, and Ulrika might be one of the best.
“Where do I even start?” Emilia said of her mother’s influence. “She has just helped me so much in golf and helping me love the game as much as I do now and not being so hard on myself if things don’t go my way.”
The two rarely play together, and more often Ulrika walks beside her daughter, carefully bringing together the wise words and tips from a bevy of coaches who have helped Emilia’s game shine. Ulrika hasn’t missed a college event in the past year and a half, and Emilia likes her familiar face in the gallery.
It’s nice when the week ends with a trophy, as this one did, but Ulrika never forgets another lesson – one learned from experience.
“All these opportunities are phenomenal. We try to look at it like all these opportunities, experience more than just the golf.”
Mother-daughter time would be one of those things.
ABOUT THE Harder Hall Invitational
The Harder Hall Women’s Invitational was first
played in 1956 in Sebring, Florida. Harder Hall
grand old hotel with a wonderful Dick Wilson golf
course. The Tournament was started by Harder
Head Professional Ben Roman to draw women
amateur golfers to Sebring. The hotel was closed
the 1980s but the Tournament has continued and
Harder Hall is a four-day no cut stroke play
Tournament for women amateurs. It draws an
international field and has three Divisions. The
Championship Division and the Forever 49 Division
handicaps are capped at
and the Ben Roman Division includes handicaps
7.0 to 24.4. It is the first of four "Orange
Blossom" Florida winter tournaments.
View Complete Tournament Information