Lapple qualifies for girls junior golf championship

Alexsandra Lapple’s golf accomplishments would be notable no matter her age. That she is 13 years old makes those results seem otherworldly.

In just the last few months, Lapple — a Ridgefield resident who enters eighth grade this fall — has put together a string of eye-opening performances. The most impressive came June 20 in Massachusetts, as Lapple won a three-hole playoff to earn the third and final qualifying spot for the upcoming 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship (July 16-21) in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Lapple started playing golf at such an early age — her father, Bob, said she first held a club when she was four — that she’s not sure what she thought about the sport.

“I don’t remember if I liked golf right away,” she said. “But since I’m still playing it and loving it, I guess I really must have liked it. I love every aspect … the competition and pressure is what really gets me going. I love playing in pressure situations because it can really test me to see what I can do and how far I can go.”

That mindset came in handy during the recent qualifier at the Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston, Mass. The youngest player in the field, Lapple found herself in a four-way tie for third place after shooting a six-over par 78 in regulation. Two of the four players were eliminated on the first two extra holes, and Lapple then won the playoff by sinking a par putt on the third hole.

“I expected to be very nervous, but to be truthful I really wasn’t,” said Lapple about the playoff. “My coach was caddying for me and I knew he knew what I was feeling so it calmed me down. I also had just played 18 [holes], and I guess I was kind of thinking I wanted to get this over with.”

Lapple, who plays out of Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury and the Salem Golf Club in North Salem, N.Y., has been competing in tournaments since she was nine years old. But this winter, she and her father took trips to Florida so that Alex could compete in Florida State Golf Association events.

“I believe that everything got better by going down to Florida; instead of working inside on mats, I got to play on the grass and work on my game,” said Lapple. “This definitely gives me an advantage to some of the kids up north who don’t even practice during the winter.”

In May, Lapple had a two-day total of 155 to win the girls overall title at the New York State PGA Junior Championship at the Leatherstocking Golf Club in Cooperstown, N.Y. Lapple shot a one-over 73 in the second round and finished first by 12 strokes.

Later that month, Lapple was the youngest player at the Connecticut Women's Open Championship at Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich, finishing in a tie for 43rd place.

She then shot rounds of 75 and 80 to tie for 16th overall at the Hartford Women’s Open (June 9-10) at the Goodwin Park Golf Course in Hartford. Lapple tied for fourth in the girls 12-18 age group — the three players ahead of her were all born at least four years earlier.

Lapple is accustomed to that.

“I definitely have a disadvantage playing with older players; they can hit it farther, giving them a shorter iron and making it easier for them to get close to the pin on their approach shot,” she said. “The only thing I can do is keep my technique and swing and hit it straight.

"When I was younger I always used to get nervous playing with older players. I always used to think that they would judge me. Now I am used to this, and I love playing with them to see how I compare.”

Favorably, it would seem.