LPGA opportunity excites Riverdale High golfer
Yvonne Vinceri set out Aug. 12 to enjoy a fun day golfing with friend Momo Odom.
By the end of that day at Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, Vinceri had earned the opportunity for a lot more fun.
That is the way the 18-year-old Riverdale High senior is approaching the opportunity to play alongside professionals at the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic, which runs Sept. 18-21 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
The 49th annual tournament was shortened to 54 holes because of the poor air quality in Portland. If conditions improve on Thursday. as expected, the tournament will be played Friday through Sunday.
The Portland teenager will be on the course with players she's looked up to, including favorites such as Brooke Henderson, Stacy Lewis and Morgan Pressel.
"It feels amazing to be able to play with some of these accomplished pros," Vinceri said.
Vinceri earned the spot by firing a 4-under-par 68 to win the PDX Amateur Open on Aug. 12 by two strokes. It was the first time she finished 18 holes in fewer than 70 strokes.
The first ones off the tee that morning, Vinceri said that she and Odom, a friend she often golfs with at Rock Creek Country Club, planned to "hang out together and laugh and have fun."
At no point did qualifying for the LPGA event become Vinceri's focus. But, when she made the turn at 3-under-par, she started to focus on the opportunity to finish a round under 70 for the first time. A bogey at hole 15 put her on course to finish at 70. Needing a birdie on the par-5 No. 18 to break 70, Vinceri got aggressive. After a solid tee shot, she stood over her ball debating whether to take a conservative approach or to be aggressive.
"I thought, 'I might as well go for it,'" she said.
Vinceri used a No. 3 hybrid club to knock the ball within 8 feet of the hole. She just wanted her putt to get close, but it dropped for an eagle, a thrilling way to finish a round at 4-under 68.
She then had to wait for the rest of the field to finish, spending some time watching friends play and more time hitting practice shots in case there was a playoff. Before the final groups were done, Vinceri was being congratulated. But it was not until she was walking to the car with her mother, Kathy, that the accomplishment began to sink in for her.
The journey to this opportunity began when Vinceri was a toddler. She remembers swinging a plastic golf club in her family's backyard when she was about 2. At a young age, she accompanied her dad, Vince, when he played golf with friends.
"I loved hanging out with him at the golf course," she said, explaining that the experience helped her love for golf bloom.
She entered her first age-group tournament as a 6-year-old.
As a sophomore at Riverdale, Vinceri placed second in the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state tournament. There was no high school state tournament this spring because of COVID-19.
Despite her golfing success, Vinceri had a decision to make after her sophomore year at Riverdale. In addition to golf, she played soccer at a high level. But golf was always her favorite sport, so she decided to focus on it and give up soccer.
In late August, she decided to play her college golf at Idaho (over Portland State and a walk-on invitation from Oregon State).
Vinceri's summer golf season this year was limited to local tournaments because of COVID-19. In mid-July, Vinceri won the Southern Oregon Junior Championship at Rogue Valley Country Club in Medford for the second year in a row.
Twice Vinceri has attended the Cambia Portland Classic as a spectator. That isn't an option this year, with spectators not allowed at Columbia Edgewater because of the pandemic. But, barely a week after beginning her senior year of high school, Vinceri will be there, playing alongside pros.
Vinceri's home course is Rock Creek Country Club, but since qualifying for the Cambia Portland Classic she has played several practice rounds at Columbia Edgewater and says it almost feels like a second home course.
She will take confidence in her short game into the experience.
"One thing my dad has always told me is that my short game is the most important part of my game, so I work on that a lot," she said.
Vinceri doesn't sound at all intimidated by the opportunity.
"I have no idea what it's going to be like," she said. "As long as I play my own game, it doesn't really matter what happens. It'll be fun."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.