Brooke Seay captures ANNIKA Invitational in playoff

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Brooke Seay captures ANNIKA Invitational in playoff

Junior

Brooke Seay captures ANNIKA Invitational in playoff

REUNION, Fla. – Brooke Seay couldn’t recall the exact number but she does know that she’s been in quite a few playoffs during her young golf career. Impressively, Seay has lost just once in a playoff, and that one took seven holes before she ended up runner-up at last year’s CIF San Diego Section Girls Championship.

“I think the pressure help me just focus more,” Seay said of her affinity for performing well in playoffs. “I definitely get nervous, and sometimes I feel tense or a little shaky, but I think that it just makes me focus in on my target more and I tend to do well.”

Seay put that focus to the test Monday at the ANNIKA Invitational, the AJGA’s first girls-only invitational of the year.

After a closing bogey left the 16-year-old Seay tied with Sweden’s Amanda Linner at 6 under, the two players headed back to the tee at the par-4 18th at Reunion Resort’s Watson Course. They traded pars and needed another go on the finishing hole to settle the tournament.

Seay hit her approach to about 30 feet from the hole and had a similar putt to the one she ran 7 feet by in regulation to set up that closing bogey. This time, though, she gave it perfect speed – and a perfect line. The putt dropped, winning Seay her first AJGA invitational title after Linner missed hers from about 20 feet along a similar line.

“First time, it went a little too far past,” Seay said. “But the second time around I knew the line and I was just trying to do everything I could to make it.”

Seay, a Class of 2019 golfer from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., started the final round two shots behind leader Emilie Alba Paltrinieri. Playing in the final group with Paltrinieri and Rachel Heck, Seay birdied her first three holes to take the lead. She bogeyed her next two holes but by the 13th hole, she had made three more birdies, and at 8 under looked poised to win convincingly.

But that’s when Seay started to feel some nerves. It’s hard to blame her, considering she had never contended in an AJGA invitational before. She bogeyed the par-5 14th after missing a short par putt and then made three pars before her bogey on her 54th hole.

“I wasn’t nervous at all this week until the last five or six holes,” Seay said. “Then I started to get a little bit nervous and I think it definitely showed up a little bit in my score. I missed a few short putts. But by the time of the playoff, I calmed down a little bit and got back into the rhythm of the game.”

Seay said she didn’t know until she got to the 18th tee box that Linner, also 16 years old, had earlier fired a tournament- and course-record 8-under 64 to get in the clubhouse at 6 under.

“I had a feeling that someone else from behind was going to shoot under par today,” Seay said.

In the end, though, it didn’t matter. Seay was on the one holding the trophy at the end. She also will receive an exemption to play in the Symetra Tour season opener, the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic March 10-12 in Winter Haven, Fla., and appear on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” on Tuesday morning. (She plans to make unofficial visits to Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Duke, too, before heading back home to the West Coast.)

After each tournament, Seay said she goes over her performances with her dad, Gordon, also her coach. They discuss things she needs to improve on, analyze certain shots she hit and more. Asked whether they’ll have much to go over after her win at Reunion, Seay responded:

“After every tournament, even when you play well, you can learn from the things you did wrong and also from the things you did well.

“I definitely have a lot to work on still and keep improving.”

Spoken like a future star. No wonder she’s so good in playoffs.

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