FLOYD — Amanda Hollandsworth played in a big tournament last week.

This week, she will be playing in an even bigger one.

The Floyd County High School and Virginia Tech graduate will tee off Thursday in the U.S. Women’s Open.

“It’s definitely going to be a different feeling. It’s going to be the best women’s tournament I’ve ever played in,” Hollandsworth said before a recent practice round at Great Oaks Country Club. “I’m just going to try and play it like any other tournament as much as I can to not get the nerves too amped up.

“It’s going to be a cool experience.”

Hollandsworth concluded her Virginia Tech golf career last week by finishing fifth out of 132 golfers at the NCAA national championships. The final round was televised by the Golf Channel.

“Seeing myself on Golf Channel was crazy,” Hollandsworth said with a laugh. “Being able to chip in on national TV was pretty cool.

“That night they had a rerun on Golf Channel, so before falling asleep I was watching it and I was waiting and waiting and waiting, and then I saw myself and I realized, ‘Oh, gosh, this was a big moment in my life.’ It motivated me to want to see myself more on TV and rise to the occasion and be great.”

Hollandsworth was the first woman in the four-year history of the Tech golf program to advance to the NCAA national championships. This week, the 23-year-old amateur will become the first player from the program to play in the U.S. Women’s Open.

“Going to the national championships was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and it was so much fun,” Hollandsworth said. “It’s hard to believe that’s going to be topped this coming week.”

The U.S. Women’s Open will be played Thursday through Sunday at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. Hollandsworth earned a spot in the tournament by winning a 36-hole sectional qualifier at the Springfield Golf & Country Club on April 30.

She will tee off at 9:12 a.m. Thursday, along with playing partners Babe Liu and Charlotte Thomas.

“I don’t want to go and just settle. I want to make the cut. I want to do as well as I can,” Hollandsworth said. “There’s a lot of people there I can compete with. I’m just excited to see what will happen.”

Her sister Jessica, a former University of Maryland golfer and ex-James Madison assistant coach, will serve as her caddy. She is now a high school teacher in Maryland.

“She’s very intelligent when it comes to golf courses,” Hollandsworth said. “She’s played and she coached, so I think it’s going to benefit me a lot to have her on the bag.”

Hollandsworth has been on a roll the past four weeks, beginning with her win in the sectional qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open.

Three weeks ago, she tied for fifth place in the NCAA tournament’s Norman (Oklahoma) Regional to advance to the national championships. It was her first top-five finish in a college tournament during the 2018-19 school year.

She had another fifth-place finish at the national championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“She’s been working toward success like this for a long time,” Hokies coach Carol Robertson said. “I’ve seen it for almost two years now, the dedication that she’s given, the effort she’s put into really focusing on the things that matter. … She cut off a lot of social media that was taking up a lot of time, worked towards her diet.

“Her putting has come on much better here in the last few weeks.”

In her first seven tournaments for the Hokies during the 2018-19 school year, Hollandsworth finished anywhere from 17th to 70th.

But at the Bryan National Collegiate in late March in North Carolina, she finished eighth with a 1-under 215.

“I was confident on the golf course and prepared for anything that it threw at me,” she said of that tournament. “I’ve made doubles, I’ve made bogeys, I’ve made big numbers in the past and haven’t ever really been able to come back from them in a round. Now it … doesn’t seem impossible to come back from.”

After a 13th-place finish at the Clemson Invitational and a 14th-place finish at the ACC championships, she topped the 50-woman field at the U.S. Women’s Open qualifier.

She shot a 2-under-par 69 in the first round and a 1-over 72 in the second round for her winning score of 1-under 141. Only the top two finishers qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open.

“I started the second round with a double [bogey], so that could’ve gone one of two ways,” she said. “I could’ve said, ‘Oh, it’s over, I can’t do it,’ or what I did — I got over it within one or two holes and said, ‘OK, make the best of the situation.’ ”

The Hokies tied for 11th out of 18 teams in the NCAA tournament’s Norman Regional; only the top six squads advanced to the national championships. But Hollandsworth, who shot a 3-under 213 in the three-day tournament, was one of three individuals who advanced from that regional to the national championships.

“Seeing the names above me and below me [at the regional] helped with my confidence, just to show me that just because I don’t have the ranking next to my name doesn’t mean I am not good enough … to play at this level,” she said.

Battling the wind, she shot an even-par 219 in the NCAA national championships. She shot a 2-over 75 on May 17. After not playing on May 18 because of rain, she shot a 1-under 72 on May 19 and another 1-under 72 in her final round on May 20.

“One of the first things she ever said to me as a college golfer was how much she hates playing in the wind,” Robertson said. “[But] her game in the wind has become so solid. She’s very good at judging into-the-wind shots.”

Hollandsworth earned her bachelor’s degree in human nutrition, foods and exercise last May and added a master’s degree in applied nutrition and physical activity this month.

Her original plan for the summer was to get a job so she could obtain the clinical hours she needed to go to school to become a physician’s assistant.

But winning the sectional qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open made her rethink her golf future. She is now wondering whether she should turn pro and attend Q-school in August.

“We’ll assess it … after the Open,” she said. “It’s definitely becoming more and more of a thought to pursue a professional career in golf. It’s a big decision. There’s financial discussions. … I’ll have to sit down with my family and discuss realistic options.

“I thought I had my whole life figured out, but now I don’t know.”

Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

Load comments