Adding to her re´sume´
Swords gains berth to U.S. Women’s Amateur
by Doug Gorman
For most teenagers, the summer means trips to the beach, hanging out with friends and maybe working a part-time job.
Not for Annie Swords.
Swords spends most of her time at the golf course, working on her game and building up her already impressive résumé.
The former Georgia Independent Schools Association state champion is making a name for herself on the national golf stage.
On Wednesday, at the Bear Creek Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla, Swords qualified for her biggest tournament yet, the Women’s Amateur (See related story).
But before that, she will hop a plane and head to her third USGA Girls Junior Championship, withthe 2014 edition to be played at the Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Two days of stroke play begin Monday before an initial cut prior to match play.
It will be her third trip to the tournament in the last four years — even more impressive for someone who didn’t picked up a club until she was introduced to the game until she was 13.
Swords first started playing with her granddad during trips to the driving range at the Newnan Country Club.
“In a way, I am glad I didn’t start playing until later,” she said. I love the game and it made me even more determined to get better and stay focused since I starting a little later.”
The event brings together one of the toughest fields for junior girls golf in the world. Last year’s event included players from Australia, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand in addition to standouts throughout the United States.
The defending champion is Norcross High senior Bailey Tardy.
Built in 1999, the Forest Highlands course is one of the longest course ever used for the Girls Junior Championship, measuring 7,262 total yards.
Swords is confident she can tame the lengthy piece of real estate during stroke play and move into the match-play portion of the competition later in the week by finishing in the top 64.
Twice earlier in 2011 and 2013 she has been unable to advance in trips to the USGA Girls Junior.
“It will be one of the longest course I have ever played, but I think I am ready,” she said.
A year ago in Fort Wayne, Swords never made it to match-play after shooting 77 on the first day and 85 on day two.
She has put that disappointing two-days of golf behind her and is focused on this year’s tournament with renewed determination.
The local golfing phenom plans to get to Arizona on Sunday in time to play a couple of practice rounds.
She hopes that helps get her acclimated to the weather that will certainly be different than what she experiences living in Georgia.
“That altitude is different, and it will take some getting used to,” she said. “The practice rounds should really help.”
Swords is quick to pass on credit to those who have helped her get to this level.
In addition to her grandfather, who inspired her to take up the game, she also gives credit to strength and conditioning coach Lori Lovett, coach David Schreyer and his sister, former LPGA member Cindy Schreyer, who will caddy for Swords next week.
“I work with Lori several times a week,” Swords said. “She has helped me stay fit.”
David Schreyer enjoyed plenty of success on the Hooter Golf Tour, winning 10-tournaments.
He is still second on the all-time Hooters’ Tour win list, but recently has turned into one of the most prominent coaches in Georgia, working with several up and coming players.
“He has helped me in several aspects of the game,” she said. “He works with me on different situations, he has helped me get ready for some of these big tournaments.”
Cindy Schreyer should also be a huge benefit for Swords, serving as her caddy during the tournament.
Schreyer captured an NCAA title at Georgia in 1984, and played on the LPGA tour from 1989-2004, winning once.
She also won twice on the Futures Tour before joining the LPGA tour.
“It’s great having her on the bag,” Swords said. “She has so much experience. She will really be able to help me.”
Swords comes into the event with plenty of confidence with her short-game and putting. Two areas she calls her biggest strengths.
“I just want to be around for match-play,” Swords said. “That would make it a successful trip.”
The local golfer knows the next few months are going to be important to her golf future, but she’s trying not to put too much pressure on herself.
“I am starting to think about where I am going to play in college, but I haven’t really made up my mind yet,” she said. “Right now, I am just trying to stay focused on this tournament.”