Tillie Claggett, a high school junior from The Woodlands, allowed
her mind to drift a few times during the week of the 2020 Girls Match Play
Championship to daydream about what was really at stake. Now that she won the
tournament with a 2 & 1 victory over Fort Worth’s Savannah Barber in the
Final match at Old American Golf Club on Sept. 6, Claggett can do more than
just think about it.
She can plan on it.
With the victory, Claggett earned a spot into the LPGA’s 2020 Volunteers
of America Classic, set for Dec. 3-6 right back here at Old American. It’ll be
her first time playing in a professional event, and she can’t wait to see how
her game stacks up against the best in the world.
“It’s OK to think about what’s on the line,” said Claggett, who
attends The John Cooper School and is committed to Vanderbilt.
“It’s naïve to say that you can’t think about it. It’s totally impossible to
not get ahead of yourself a little bit. But the second I caught my mind
wandering, I let myself imagine it for a second and enjoyed that feeling of the
possibility. But then I immediately pushed it aside and focused on the next
The strategy worked. Claggett played a power game all week and
especially in the Final match. She routinely drove it 15-20 yards past Barber,
who conversely relied on precision to keep pace. Claggett birdied the first
hole to take a 1-up lead after she outdrove Barber and stuffed a short iron to
That lead held steady through the first six holes. Claggett, who
qualified for the Girls Match Play Championship with a win at the Southern
Texas PGA Prestige Tour’s 2020 Mid-Summer Classic, went 2-up when Barber
bogeyed the par-4 seventh hole.
Barber struck back quickly, however. She rolled in a 5-foot birdie
on the par-4 eighth hole to cut Claggett’s lead in half. Claggett then bogeyed
the par-4 ninth hole, which allowed Barber to pull even in the match.
Claggett’s 6-foot birdie on No. 10 pushed her back ahead, 1 up. She
went 2 up when Barber bogeyed the par-4 14th hole. Claggett closed out the
match with a 4-foot birdie on the par-5 17th.
“I was trying to keep the pressure on as much as I could,”
Claggett said. “I think the approach shots are really crucial on this golf
course. There were tough pin positions on small greens that I find really
difficult to read, personally. So getting myself as close as possible was
Claggett won four matches in three days. Her work began early morning
on Sept. 4 with a 2-up victory against Grace Jin of San Antonio in the Round of
16. Claggett turned around that afternoon and disposed of San Antonio’s Julia
Vollmer, 5 & 3. In her Semifinals match the next day, Claggett birdied the final
three holes to rally from a 2-down deficit and defeated Meagan Winans of
Richardson, 1 up.
Barber, for her part, provided a stern challenge in the Final match.
She hit nine of 12 fairways and 13 of 17 greens.
“I was always fighting; I never gave up,” said Barber, a junior at
Spring Creek Academy who earned her spot in the 16-player field with her top-20
ranking in the LJT’s 2020 Player of the Year points race. “I played pretty
solid, just hitting greens and fairways and went from there.”
This is the first year for the Girls Match Play Championship. It
was created by the Texas Junior Golf Alliance, a joint venture between the
Legends Junior Tour, the Northern Texas PGA All-American Tour and the Southern
Texas PGA Prestige Tour. Sixteen of the state’s top junior girls earned their
way into the single-elimination, match play championship through their junior
golf performances in TJGA events.
In order to make this unique event happen, the TJGA partnered with
the LPGA, the Volunteers of America and Old American. The result was three days
of spirited match play competition, which ended with Claggett punching her
ticket into the 2020 VOA Classic.
“The Girls Match
Play Championship has been a great success,” LJT Tournament Director Kevin
Porter said. “The golf has been superb. The players, caddies and friends and
family who attended all complied with our COVID-19 safety protocols. Old
American is an awesome, one-of-a-kind test in Dallas-Fort Worth. A lot of
people were involved in bringing this championship together, including the
NTPGA, STPGA, LPGA and Volunteers of America. The week played out just as we
information on the Girls Match Play Championship, click here.