CLEVELAND – Olivia DiPaolo has only been a resident of Tennessee for a short time, but she is immediately making a name for herself on the local golf scene.
DiPaolo overcame a disappointing second round at the Tennessee Girls’ Junior Amateur to rally from a four-stroke deficit to claim the 56th renewal of the state championship at Cleveland Country Club on Thursday.
For the soon-to-be Lipscomb University golfer, the win will provide her with a much-needed boost of confidence as she looks to begin the next chapter of her playing career.
“This means a lot to me, that I was tied for fourth (coming into the final round) and I was able to overcome my 78 from yesterday,” DiPaolo said. “I was four strokes back and won by two, just kind of showing myself that you’re not always going to play perfect but you can still make up for it.”
DiPaolo attended Larry A. Ryle High School in Union, Kentucky. Her family moved to Franklin after she graduated in May. She earned All-State honors her final two years of high school.
Following her win in the Tennessee Girls’ Junior, DiPaolo received a special congratulatory message from Lipscomb women’s golf coach Jesse Lawley.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of you,” Lawley said in a video to DiPaolo. “You did such a great job coming from behind. I can’t wait to have you in the fall. It’s only the start!”
DiPaolo’s stay at Cleveland Country Club got off to a solid start as she fired an opening-round 74 on Tuesday that left her one stroke out of the lead.
However, she fell off the pace in round two as she carded six bogeys and a double bogey to go along with two birdies.
“My swing was off (in the second round),” DiPaolo explained. “I only hit eight greens and I had 30 putts, so that was pretty rough. After that, I spent a lot of time at the range and did some drills to get my swing back where it needed to be.”
DiPaolo was one-under through 11 holes during Thursday’s final round and was cruising to the championship as the other contenders struggled. She bogeyed three of her final seven holes, but sank a long par putt on No. 18 to solidify a two-stroke victory.
DiPaolo finished with a three-day total of 10-over-par, 226 (74-78-74).
“Today I just focused on fairways and greens, just taking it one shot at a time,” she added. “Don’t worry about the score, just hit fairways and greens and the score will come.”
After she walked off the 18th green on the final day, DiPaolo was greeted by Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame member Maggie Scott, who didn’t know DiPaolo prior to the tournament but watched her in the opening round and quickly became a fan.
Scott is synonymous with golf in the area, having won the Cleveland Women’s Amateur 30 times between 1975 and 2017, in addition to her 12 TGA state titles.
Day-two leader Vilda Westh Blanc of Wartrace finished second with a total of 228 (75-73-80).
McKinley Cunningham (Clarksville) and Anna Heck (Memphis) tied for third at 229, while Ainsley Simms of Maryville rounded out the top five.
Also recording top-ten finishes were: Kendall Maynard (73-79-81–233), Kennedy Noe (75-77-82–234), Hannah Nall (81-79-77–237), Autumn Spencer (78-78-81–237), Sadie Pan (79-77-84–240), and Tzunami Polito (79-78-83–240)