People outside of Florida think the Sunshine State is filled to the borders with white-haired people who came from around the country to line up for the train to eternity. Imagine their surprise when they find out that the grande dame of amateur golf here is all of 33 years old.
Meghan Stasi, of Oakland Park, has three U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championships and a Curtis Cup appearance to her credit at that ripe old age, and she is not about to stop there. She’s already gotten a jump on her 2012 schedule by winning the prestigious 80th Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship at Coral Ridge CC in Fort Lauderdale. Giving credence to her self-perceived dotage, she became the oldest winner since 21-year old Perry Swenson in 2004. In the meantime, the list of winners reads like the pairing sheet for a Florida Junior Tour event with LPGA rookie Lexi Thompson of Coral Springs capturing the tournament in 2009 and 2010.
The record book shows this to be her first win in this annual event, but don’t make book on that. Her first “victory” at this event came back in 2008. It was the day she still was Meghan Bolger and met a club member named Danny Stasi. It was a day Stasi will never forget for a couple of reasons.
“I remember the day,” she said with a chuckle. “It was Jan. 13, 2008. It was the day I met Danny and the day I found out that I was on the Curtis Cup team.”
It had to be a match made in heaven. She’s a graduate of Tulane and the New Jersey native looked upon New Orleans as a second home. Stasi owns a Fort Lauderdale restaurant named the “Shuck ‘N Dive” and you guessed it — it’s a Cajun eatery. It fit into everything she was doing.
Plan A had been for her to earn her master’s degree in two years and then play golf for a living, but that plan was overtaken by Plan B, which was made up as she went along. She accepted an opportunity to coach the University of Mississippi women’s golf team and stayed there for seven years. After defending her Mid-Amateur title in 2007, she tried LPGA Q-School and missed by a couple of shots. It convinced her to forge her golf legacy in amateur circles.
“Golf is a part of me, and will always be a part of my life,” Stasi said. “The people I’ve met. The places I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had have come from golf. I love to compete and that comes from my family. My mom played three sports in college and dad played baseball. I’m the oldest of four, so I’ve always competed.”
She always will compete. She would love to make another Curtis Cup team as her one experience was a memory of a lifetime.
“Just to be able to play on the team at St. Andrews and then to have 20 family and friends come over was a thrill,” Stasi said wistfully. “Mid-ams and seniors are in a different spot. But, I’m still trying as hard as I can.”
Plan A never seemed to materialize, but Plan B hasn’t been all that bad.
“Is it what I expected?” she asked. “Yes and no. Three national championships? Probably not. Play golf? Yeah, definitely.”
By the way, she also managed to become a grande dame at 33 and that’s no small feat — even in a place like Florida.
The FSGA announced that the first Florida Junior Tour Championship will be held Dec. 15-16, 2012 at TPC Sawgrass. The opening round will be played on the Dye Course, home of the Nationwide Tour Jacksonville Open. The final round will be played on the Stadium course, the site of The Players Championship. The field mostly will be taken off the points list.
In other FJT news, Jupiter’s Ryan Jahn won the Boys event in the FJT Amelia National Golf Club in Amelia Island when he birdied the second playoff hole against Bradenton’s Jeffrey Meltzer. Both players finished 36 holes with 2-over-par 146s. Ponte Vedra Beach’s David Novakoaski finished third a stroke back at 147.
Yueer Feng, of Orlando, won her 24th FJT title at Amelia National with an eight-stroke victory ahead of Tatiana Pineda, from Gainesville, and nine ahead of Ocala’s Kristine Odaiyar.
Terrance Zhang, of Orlando, and Valrico’s Latanna Stone captured the Boys and Girls Divisions for their initial FJT victories at the FJT Viera East GC tournament. Zhang, who finished at 2-over-par 146, managed a two-shot margin ahead of Samuel Uhland from Jacksonville and three ahead of Orlando’s Luis Gagne.
Stone, who at age 10 tied the youngest age to win a FJT event, finished a whopping eight strokes ahead of Michelle Yan, from Hong Kong, with a 146 total. Winter Haven’s Athena Yang recorded a solo third-place finish at 157.