14-year-old Tennessee golf prodigy finishes 2nd in Women's Amateur Championship

Sophie Linder's golf swing - WTVC.JPG
Sophie Linder taking a swing (Image: WTVC)

Her swing is nearly perfect.

Carthage Golfer Sophie Linder competes against the best amateurs in Tennessee, many of whom are college students representing the best golf programs in the state.

But Linder’s never even worn a cap and gown. In fact, she’s just 14 years old.

“They say, ‘Oh wow, you’re 14?’” Linder said. “They ask, ‘How are you so good? Why do you play up?’”

Up, meaning up to her competition in both age and size. As a rising freshman in high school, she was the youngest player competing in the Women’s Amateur Championship Thursday at Black Creek Golf Club in Lookout Valley.

But you wouldn’t be able to tell based on Linder’s scorecard, where she excelled and finished tied for 2nd place with a final score of 4-under-par in the tournament, among 76 competitors.

“I like it and enjoy it actually – people being wowed by it,” Linder said. “It’s just age. It doesn’t really matter.”

So, how good is this young prodigy? Just ask her competitor Hanley Long, who is a Middle Tennessee State Graduate and Thursday’s tournament champion with a final score of 5-under-par. Long will be turning pro, and she came into the final round just one stroke ahead of Linder, despite nearly an 8-year age gap.

“She’s so talented and so much fun to be around,” Long said. “I think I was driving her around in a golf cart at a tournament when she was 11 years old. It’s kind of fun that we’re both taking it head to head.”

Two years ago, Linder enrolled in online school to have more time to practice. She says she plays at least 72 holes a week, with plans to one day make the LPGA.