Warren’s Clemente finishes seventh in skills challenge
Competition was at Augusta National
By Greg Gulas
Warren third-grader Gianna Clemente finished seventh in her age group during Sunday’s annual “Drive, Chip and Putt” national competition at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, site of this week’s Masters Tournament.
Clemente, 9, a student at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, is one of the top golfers in her age group — she has 80 wins in the 90 events. She was one of 80 national qualifiers out of a field of 80,000.
“I had a great experience and it was really a lot of fun,” she said, adding that the famed course “was everything that I expected it to be.”
“The greens were quick, but weren’t as challenging as I thought they would be.”
Golfing since she was 2 and competitively since she was 5, Clemente was coming off a win in last week’s Peachtree Open in Atlanta in the 11-12 Division.
In four events this year, she has posted a runner-up finish at the Hurricane Event 13-U in Phoenix and a third-place finish in another Hurricane Event, the 13-U in Hilton Head, S.C.
Teeing off against older golfers has helped her prepare for events in her age bracket.
“[It] me makes me compete that much harder,” said Clemente, adding that the challenge motivates her “to want to do better.”
Clemente qualified in 2016 for this year’s competition by winning the local competition at Mill Creek Golf Course.
She was one of two qualifiers in the sub-regional at Akron’s Westfield Country Club.
She punched her ticket to Augusta by winning the regional competition at Pittsburgh’s Oakmont Country Club, a nine-time U.S. Open host.
Support from her parents, Patrick and Julia, has been important to her with her father serving as her coach.
“We always have a lot of fun when are together because my parents always make sure that we do something together as a family when we are on the road and at an event,” she said.
Patrick said, “Gianna has received plenty of attention over the past few years and manages that really well. Sometimes, I think that she is oblivious to the attention.
It can become overwhelming at times in tournament play, but she’s poised and very confident.”
In 2016, Clemente joined four friends in the “Win Green for Cason Campaign.” They spent six months to help raise $30,000 for Cason Crow’s family and St. Jude Children’s Hospital as the Louisiana youngster battled brain cancer, of which he is in remission.
This year, the group has set their sights on raising more than $100,000 for St. Jude and the Sadie Keller Foundation, named after the 10 year-old Dallas-Fort Worth resident battling leukemia and whose foundation delivers gifts to needy children that remain hospital-bound during the Christmas Holiday.
“We are so very proud that Gianna is involved in something that is much bigger than her,” her father said. “The Win Green Campaign is an absolutely amazing group that utilizes their skills to help those less fortunate and we are so happy that Gianna is a part of that group.”