Annabelle Pancake caps off collegiate career and wins the Sea Island Women's Amateur
Annabelle Pancake (Kevin Price Photo)
Annabelle Pancake (Kevin Price Photo)

Annabelle Pancake didn’t play flawless golf like she had the first two days in the Sea Island Women’s Amateur. 

But still, she cruised to victory Friday in the third and final round of the tournament at the Seaside Course on the Georgia coast. She posted an even-par 70 score, which gave her a four-shot victory at Sea Island Golf Club, and her total for the tournament was 6-under par. 

The highest-ranked player in the field, Pancake, who started the week rated No. 17 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Women’s Rankings, took a three-stroke cushion into the closing round of the 54-hole tournament, which was kicking off the summer schedule for the amateur women’s game. 

The Clemson standout called the win a special one personally after accepting the championship trophy at the awards presentation held at the 18th green following the conclusion of the tournament. 

“My dad comes out to play here a lot. Our family has vacationed out here before and played this course together actually. So, it’s really special,” she explained. “And, just to see all my friends, too. A lot of my teammates were able to come and play, and just to be able to see them and compete with them again, it’s really exciting. I’m really grateful, and it means a lot.”

The victory adds to what has been an exciting month for Pancake, who graduated from Clemson in early May before finishing seventh in the recent NCAA tournament, which was the best-ever finish by a Tigers golfer. The two-time All-ACC selection also was just named an honorable-mention All-America pick last week. 

That selection capped a senior year in which she broke several Clemson records. And to top it off, Pancake got engaged last Friday. Her fiance’ Nathan was her caddy this week at Sea Island. 

“The Lord has blessed me abundantly more than I could ever ask,” she said Friday, unsuccessfully trying not to tear up as she spoke about all that has occurred in recent weeks. “I have the best teammates. I’m sad that I was graduating Clemson because I love them and I love my coaches.

“I was able to get engaged to the love of my life, and he got to caddy and we had so much fun. Yeah, I’ve just been blessed, and I’m so grateful the Lord has blessed me in this way. I just want to give Him the glory at the end of the day because that’s all that matters.”

Pancake was stellar all week at Sea Island. She opened with a 2-under 68 in Wednesday’s first round to get into contention as she trailed a pair of co-leaders by a single stroke after the first 18 holes. She took the solo lead after the middle round when she carded a 66 to grab the three-shot advantage going into Friday’s concluding round. 

Pancake played the first 36 holes without a blemish on her scorecard, making six birdies to go with 30 pars. She didn’t make her first bogey of the tournament until the sixth hole on Friday when she made a four on the second par-3 on the front nine. Before that, she had made four pars and a birdie to reach 7-under for the championship. 

Pancake made the turn Friday at even-par for the day and led by at least four shots for the remainder of the round. She made two more birdies to reach 8-under through 14 holes, putting her within a stroke of tying the tournament low score of 9-under set by last year’s winner Morgan Ketchum. 

However, Pancake did make bogey on two of her final four holes including the last to settle for the even-par score for the day and the 6-under final tally for the tournament. 

“My goal every time I play is to beat the golf course and shoot under par,” she said. “I was just trying to stay patient because it’s easy to make mistakes, especially with the wind like it was today.

“Obviously, it’s nice to have a lead going into the last couple especially with the wind like it was because you can make some mistakes and obviously I did.”

Pancake played all three rounds with Kentucky standout Laney Frye who once again played her way into the final pairing for the last round. Frye, who was ranked 34th coming into the week, shot even-par 70 in the final round and ended up solo second at 2-under for the tournament. 

Also a senior for the Lady Wildcats this season, Frye, an All-America player during her collegiate career, has now finished second in each of the first four Sea Island Women’s Amateur tournaments. 

Two players ended up tied for third overall at 1-under. One was Duke golfer Andie Smith who has now been among the top-10 all four years here as well. Smith fired the low round of this year’s tournament when she recorded a 5-under 65 in round two on Thursday. 

This is her best finish in the four tournaments. Smith closed with a 69 on Friday. She shot a 5-over 75 in the first round. 

Also tying for third was Ole Miss freshman Sophie Linder who shot  70 on Friday. She also shot 70 in the first round and posted a 69 in the middle round. 

Only four players in the field of 83 that teed off Wednesday finished under par over the three rounds. Four other players finished at level-par for the tournament. 

Tournament Notes:

Repeat: With Annabelle Pancake winning this week, the Atlantic Coast Conference gets another champion at the Sea Island Women’s Amateur. 

Clemson, where Pancake enjoyed a glorious career, is a member of the ACC. 

Last year, Morgan Ketchum got the first win for the ACC in the event. She plays at Virginia Tech. Ketchum played again this year and finished tied for 13th. 

A player from the Southeastern Conference won the first two tournaments. Hannah Levi from Mississippi State won the inaugural tournament in 2021 and Kayla Holden from Tennessee won the event in 2022. 

Also worth noting, Pancake’s parents were both collegiate golfers. Her mother Libby played at Arizona State while her father Tony played at Alabama. Her father is also the director of golf at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., and is the current PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year. 

Summer Shift: Pancake noted after play on Friday that winning at Sea Island could force her to rethink her summer playing plans. 

She is now the early leader in the new Women’s Elite Amateur Golf Series point standings. The series, in its first year, kicked off with this week’s tournament and consists of five amateur tournaments spread throughout the summer. 

Players earn points based on their finishes in these five tournaments that are part of the series. The golfer that ends up on top of the standings at the end wins the Elite Amateur Cup and also earns exemptions into USGA competitions and some professional tournaments. 

“I’m not sure what I am going to do yet. That’s still in the Lord’s hands, and I’m praying about it. I’ll definitely take it into consideration, playing the rest of them,” Pancake said. 

She said she does plan to give pro golf a try with qualifying school in August in her immediate future.  

Pancake added that the Elite Amateur Golf Series is great for the women’s game. 

“The series is very exciting,” she noted. “I know my teammates and I have been talking about it. My coaches and I have been talking about it and my parents and I have talked about it. There’s lot of amazing tournaments lined up, and this is a great one to start it off.”

The next tournament on tap in the new series is the Southwestern Amateur set for June 12-15 at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Staying in Georgia: While Sea Island’s tournament kicked off the summer circuit in the women’s amateur game, the men’s amateur summer schedule begins next week in suburban Atlanta with the annual Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club. 

The four-round tourney opens Wednesday and will run through next Saturday. 

Defending champion Hunter Logan is slated to play as is 2022 champion Carson Bacha who this week helped Auburn to the program’s first NCAA championship. 

Results: Sea Island Women's Amateur
1INAnnabelle PancakeZionsville, IN70068-66-70=204
2KYLaney FryeLexington, KY50070-68-70=208
T3SCAndie SmithBluffton, SC40075-65-69=209
T3TNSophie LinderCarthage, TN40070-69-70=209
T5ThailandThanana KotchasanmaneeThailand40070-74-66=210

View full results for Sea Island Women's Amateur

ABOUT THE Sea Island Women's Amateur

Patterned after the highly successful Jones Cup Invitational tournaments at Sea Island and Ocean Forest Golf Club, which began in 2001, the Women’s Amateur follows the Jones Cup tradition of drawing the nation’s best female golfers to the world-class setting of Sea Island. The format is 54 holes of stroke play with a field limit of 84 players.

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