FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Six years later the memories are a bit fuzzy for Samantha
Wagner, but then again she was only 11 years old when she qualified to play in
the 2008 U.S Girls’ Junior Championship, the second youngest ever to do so.
“It was kind of surreal for me,” she said. “I don’t remember much about the
golf except for having to hit a driver on one par 3. I also got to see
Lexi Thompson (who won the championship) up close. But I really just remember
going there and having so much fun embracing it all.”
This week at Forest Highlands Golf Club, the 17-year-old, who has committed
to the University of Florida, is playing in her fourth and final Girls’
Junior. In Wednesday’s first round of match play, she dispatched Brynn Walker,
7 and 5.
“I came home from the Player’s Dinner Sunday night and just got so sad
thinking this is the last year. I’m getting old,” she laughed.
Was Wagner, who shot in the 80s and missed the cut at The Hartford Club in
Connecticut, truly ready to play in a national championship in 2008? Looking
back now her mother Amy isn’t so sure.
“It was fun and a novelty for her to be there,” she said. “But as her game
grew and she’s done other things, we wondered if maybe it didn’t give her too
much too soon. It set very high expectations for her even though she loved it.”
“I remember when she came out of the locker room at Hartford crying after
she missed the cut. All of a sudden it hit her and it was a moment of, ‘Oh my
God, I just played in a national championship at 11 years old.’ ”
In fact, Wagner would not qualify for the Girls’ Junior the following two
years. She did, however, as a 14-year-old, but accepted an invitation from the
LPGA Tour to play on the Evian Masters Junior Cup team event in France the same