VILLAGE OF PINEHURST – Presley Baggett’s first day was Payne Stewart’s last.
Born on Oct. 25, 1999, Baggett has long felt a spiritual connection to Stewart and Pinehurst. Her mother was in labor as Baggett’s parents watched the news trickle in about Stewart’s tragic plane crash that day.
Now perhaps the best prep player in Mississippi, Presley Baggett cruised to victory to win the 40th Girls’ North & South Junior Championship, winning by four strokes over 2017 champion Aneka Seumanutafa.
And she did it with a round on Pinehurst No. 2.
“This means a lot to me,” Baggett said. “While I was being born, my parents watched the news about Payne Stewart’s plane. And now, I was playing the course where he played and won the U.S. Open. That is just something that will stay with me for a long time.”
After winning the championship on Pinehurst No. 6, Baggett returned to the 18th hole of No. 2 and visited the Payne Stewart statue, striking Payne’s winning pose…with the Putter Boy trophy at their feet.
Baggett, who will play next year at LSU, has won the Mississippi State 5-A Girls’ Championship three times, as a freshman, junior and this year as a senior. She won seven tournaments as a senior this season, including the state title, which she claimed by a staggering nine shots.
It wasn’t quite that easy at Pinehurst, though Baggett put herself in position with a solid 75 on No. 2 to open the championship. She followed that with the tournament’s lowest round, a 5-under 67 – including a back-nine 31 – on Pinehurst No. 6 before closing with a 71 on No. 6 to beat Seumanutafa.
“The whole day, I was having short birdie putts that just weren’t falling,” Baggett said of that second round. “Finally, I saw that my coach had showed up, and I guess that got me fired up. The putts started to fall. It just started to happen and I got into a zone.”
Baggett, of Canton, Mississippi, finished with a three-day total of 3-under 213.
Pinehurst’s Nicole Adam, who has reached the Drive, Chip & Putt National Championship at Augusta National, finished tied for 4th at 5-over 221.