Swords heading back to U.S. Girls Junior Championship
by DOUG GORMAN
Heritage School golfer Annie Swords hasn’t played the sport too long.
After being introduced to the sport by her grandfather a little more than four years ago, however, this year’s GISA Class AAA state girls medalist already continues to add to an impressive resume on the links.
It includes qualifying for a spot later this month to the USGA Girls Junior Championships from July 22-27 at Sycamore Hills County Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.
It’s the third consecutive year that a girls player from Coweta County will play in the U.S. Junior Girls Championship.
Recent East Coweta graduate and Mississippi State freshman golfer Ji Eun Baik qualified for last year’s U.S. Junior event.
Swords, meanwhile, is headed back to the tournament for the second time in her brief career after firing a 3-over par, 75 at the Cartersville Country Club.
This year, Swords turned in the second-best round of the day, one stroke behind Diane Lim, who shot a 74.
The rising junior qualified for the national tournament for the first time two years ago on just her first attempt, but could only watch last year after missing a chance to qualify for the event.
The return to the tournament filled an empty void for Swords left over from the disappointment of 2012.
“After not making it into the tournament last year, my main goals was to get back into the tournament,” she said.
Swords helped her own cause with a birdie on the Par 4 No. 17. She also pared the Par-5 18 to help punch her ticket to the U.S. Junior Championship.
“I feel excited to be going back to the tournament,” she said. “I want to make the cut and get into match play, that’s my biggest goal.”
Swords, who calls the Newnan Country Club home, got to play one practice round on the Cartersville County Club Course, before starting the tournament.
“I was able to play pretty consistent golf,” she said. “The birdie at 17 and the par at 18 really helped. We had a rain-delay during the tournament, but I stayed focused.”
Swords has benefitted this summer from her ability to sink putts.
“I have been putting pretty well,” she said. “That has really helped my game. It is something I have been working on.”
In her shot time on the links, she has been focused on getting better.
The Heritage School junior was home-schooled for a time in order to concentrate on golf.
These days she plays in 25-30 tournaments a year, even when school is in session.
“Heritage is really good about accommodating my golf schedule during the school year,” she said.
This summer, golf has taken Swords as far as Vermont to play in a tournament.
“It was really a good experience,” she said.
She has also made a name for herself at courses around the south this summer.
Swords finished third at Canebrake Junior Classic in Athens, Ala., last month with two-rounds of 79 and 70, and third in the Orchard Hills Junior Classic in Newnan in May with rounds of 77 and 72.
The hard work has paid off. Swords gives credit to former Canongate pro David Schreyer her private coach for elevating her level of play. He recently became golf coach at Huntingdon College in Ala., his alma mater, but still works with several students from the Atlanta area, including Swords.
“We try to get together a couple of times a month,” she said. Swords gives credit to personal trainer Lori Lovett.
“She has helped me work on my strength and conditioning and just staying in shape,” she said.
Swords knows her best golf is still in front of her.
“Right now, I am just concentrating on school and improving my game,” she said.
Down the road, Swords wants to play Division I golf.
“I haven’t really thought about where I want to go to school,” she said. “I know I want to play in college, and from there we will just see.”