News from Around the Green

The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.

Bentley Cotton Wins 99th Women’s Texas Amateur

AUSTIN – Bentley Cotton arrived at the University of Texas Golf Club at the start of the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur with zero expectations. She left as part of Texas golf history.

The Austin native and incoming freshman at the University of Texas scored a 1-up victory over Texas A&M freshman Makenzie Niblett on Cotton’s new home course as part of the UT Women’s Golf Program.

“No better place to win it,” Cotton said. “It was unbelievable out there today.”

In a battle of two Austinites, Cotton struck first with a birdie on the second hole of the classic Hill Country course built by Bechtol-Russell in 2003. Although the Championship Match had several momentum swings throughout the day, Cotton never trailed. She had an answer for every shot Niblett threw at her.

When Niblett won the par-3 eighth hole with a par to draw even, for example, Cotton poured in a 6-footer for birdie on the next hole to regain the 1-up lead. Over the next hour and a half, the two supremely talented competitors displayed vintage ball-striking and deft touch on the greens. Niblett won the 10th hole; Cotton won the 11th and 12th.

It went that way throughout the back nine. By the time they reached the par-4 17th hole, Cotton held a 2-up advantage. After Cotton’s approach shot trickled off the back of the green, Niblett eyed an opening.

She had 102 yards to the flagstick from a perfect lie in the fairway.

“I knew I had to get it close,” said Niblett, who grew up at UT Golf Club and estimated she’s played the course at least 250 times. “I saw that she had gone over the green, so I knew it was the perfect opportunity to go at the flag.”

Niblett flighted her 48-degree to the right and just past the hole. Her ball dug in, spun back and disappeared into the hole. It was her second hole-out for eagle in as many days; she did the same thing Thursday on the par-5 ninth from 89 yards.

Despite the dramatic eagle, Cotton still owned a 1-up lead as the two players headed to the 18th tee. Cotton made a routine par that forced Niblett to make an 18-foot birdie putt to extend the match. Niblett’s putt just missed, giving Cotton the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur victory.

“We went back and forth a lot today,” said Cotton, who made it to the Round of 32 at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur and has two UIL Class 6A State High School team championships at Westlake High School to her name. “I was a little nervous on 18, but I just wanted to make par. I kept breathing and told myself, ‘You can do it.’”

She did do it. Now Cotton’s name will be engraved on the Women’s Texas Amateur trophy alongside the likes of World Golf Hall of Fame members Babe Didrikson, Betty Jameson and Sandra Haynie to name a few.

“It means a lot to me,” Cotton said. “It gives me a lot of confidence going into my next two events, which are the North and South Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Especially with the same format, this gives me a lot of confidence.”

The 99th Women’s Amateur featured one of the strongest fields in recent memory. Five of the top 100 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings participated. It’s a testament to the wealth of talent in Texas and their desire to compete in elite-level amateur championships.

The TGA was committed to ensuring a safe environment for everyone involved in this week’s championship. Specific player guidelines were developed, in addition to a safety plan that was in full compliance with local orders. All players and spectators, as well as TGA volunteers and staff, were required to follow all guidelines. Masks were mandatory while indoors and while outdoors when safe distancing couldn’t be maintained, such as players sharing golf carts.

The TGA also had a dedicated staff member continually sanitizing all touchpoints during the championship, in addition to numerous other Covid-19 precautions.

In addition to the Cotton-Niblett match, four other match play flights finished up on Friday. In the First Flight, Camryn Carreon of San Antonio defeated Wimberly’s Faith Kilgore, 3 and 2.

In the second flight, Kingwood’s Hanna Alberto, the 98th Women’s Texas Amateur champion, defeated Hanna Liu of Austin, 4 and 3. In the third flight, Flower Mound’s Piper Frisbie defeated Porter’s Ariana Saenz, 6 and 5. In the fourth flight, Lauren Mancha of Spring Branch defeated Leya Glazer of Dallas, 1 up.

The TGA extends its gratitude to UT Golf Club, including its staff and membership, for their support, hospitality and generosity during the 99th Women’s Amateur. We greatly appreciate all of the efforts from UT Golf Club, as well as the TGA volunteers, for helping us create a safe and competitive championship week. For more information on the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur, click here.