Teen Queens: Avery Zweig and Gianna Clemente win U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball title
Avery Zweig (L) and Gianna Clemente
Avery Zweig (L) and Gianna Clemente

Five years ago, Avery Zweig made history as the youngest competitor in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at 11 years, 3 months, a mark that still stands. On Wednesday at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., she and her younger partner, Gianna Clemente, added their names to the record book in an even more meaningful way.

Clemente, 15, of Estero, Fla.; and Zweig, 16, of McKinney, Texas; rallied from an early 2-hole deficit to defeat current collegians Tiffany Le and Kate Villegas, 3 and 1, and capture the 8th iteration of a competition that has been dominated by juniors. Clemente, the runner-up in last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, and Zweig surpassed 2016 champions Hailee Cooper (16) and Kaitlyn Papp (17) as the youngest champions of this event by a combined two years of age.

The victory earns Clemente and Zweig exemptions into the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles, as well as berths in the U.S. Girls’ Junior in July at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Eisenhower Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colo. (as 2022 runner-up, Clemente was already exempt).

“It means the world,” said Zweig. “The USGA makes their championships and titles very difficult, and if someone has won a USGA championship of any kind that's a very large feat.

“This week we really didn’t have any expectations. We didn’t talk about winning or match play once. Just stayed present and kept it casual. I’m just really proud of this whole team… me, Gianna, but it doesn’t end there. A lot of people have supported us.”

In 2021 at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas, Clemente and Zweig reached the semifinals in their first Four-Ball as a team. They were eliminated in the Round of 16 last year in Puerto Rico.

This victory also continues the meteoric rise for Clemente, who qualified for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur at age 11 and last summer Monday-qualified for three consecutive LPGA Tour events, which moved her inside the top 75 of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR® (she’s currently No. 44).

“It’s amazing,” said Clemente. “It’s been such a long and grueling week with a lot of really tense moments and a lot of really fun ones in there, too. I can’t even explain it.”

Le, 19, of Covina, Calif., a sophomore at the University of California Riverside, won this year’s Big West Conference title, and Villegas, 20, of Arcadia, Calif., a two-time All-Big West selection in her three years at UCR before transferring to UCLA in January, were hoping to end the junior dominance of this championship. Only two college tandems – Taylor Totland and Alice Chen (2017), and Ellen Secor and Katrina Prendergast (2018) – have etched their names on the trophy.

Le and Villegas got off to a great start by making a winning birdie on the opening hole and another on the par-5 fifth. A bogey on No. 7 was offset by Le’s 12-foot birdie on the par-5 eighth, giving the side a 2-up advantage for a second time.

It was shortlived, as Clemente/Zweig birdied No. 9 to trail only by one going to the second nine. A bogey by the collegians – just their third in match play – on the 180-yard, par-3 12th tied the match and Clemente/Zweig used that momentum to win three of the next five holes. The big blow came on the 157-yard, par-3 14th hole. Clemente made a rare miscue off the tee, finding the penalty area, but Zweig holed a 25-yard pitch for birdie and then watched as Le/Villegas failed to convert birdie putts.

“Oh, it was massive,” said Zweig. “Fourteen has kind of been a nemesis hole for me this week. I love this course and I’m happy I don’t have to see that [hole] for a little bit.

“Over that chip I wasn’t really thinking much. I just had a general idea where I needed to land it and put a good stroke on it and got some good luck.”

Zweig’s good fortune continued on No. 15 when she converted a short birdie for a 2-up lead, and when the side birdied the par-4 17th, the match was over. The pair had not had to play past the 16th hole in any of their previous four matches.

In the semifinals contested on Wednesday morning, Clemente and Zweig posted a 4-and-3 victory over Leigh Chien, 17, of Irvine, Calif., and Anna Huang, 14, of Canada. The other semifinal saw Le and Villegas rally from an early 3-down deficit to post a 2-up victory over 14-year-olds Angela Zhang, of Bellevue, Wash., and 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur co-medalist Alice Ziyi Zhao, of Irvine, Calif. Zhang qualified in Pittsburgh, Pa., on May 8 for the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open, to be played at Pebble Beach Golf Links for the first time, from July 6-9.

by David Shefter, USGA

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ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball

The U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA championship, was played for the first time in 2015 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. It immediately became one of the USGA's most popular tournaments. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those women with a Handicap Index of 14.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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