Ponaganset freshman Gianna Papa among favorites for girls golf title

She was an Rhode Island Golf Association Women’s Amateur finalist two years ago. Last summer, she made the quarterfinals.

Even with that, Gianna Papa almost didn’t make the Ponaganset varsity team this year.

Some confusion with paperwork had Papa out of the Chieftains’ six, but all it took was two practice rounds for the freshman to establish her spot as the team’s top player.

Papa could be more than that as she plays her Inaugural high school season. She’s got eyes on the girls’ Championships and, playing from the white tees – same as the boys – some even bigger goals as she plays on a team for the first time.

“This is all new to me,” Papa said. “With high school golf, I’ve already made some friends. I think it’s fun, especially the team aspect of it. I really like it. ”

All this after just one match.

Papa enters high school unlike any freshman the state’s ever seen. She’s been a prodigy of sorts, first making news when she competed in the Drive, Chip and Putt Finals in 2016 at Augusta National in Georgia. She’s competed – and contended – in several Women’s tournaments. As a 13-year-old, she set a Women’s course record at the Montaup Country Club in the RIGA Women’s Amateur Championship, a tournament in which she eventually finished second.

More:Big Papa sets record at Women’s State Amateur

More:Florio, Papa will meet for Women’s State Amateur title

It would be hard not to consider Papa the favorite to win the girls’ title this year. The tournament might be at its most competitive this season, with three returning first-team All-Staters and two other freshmen coming on the scene that will make the one-day tournament something to watch.

Ponaganset's Gianna Papa will be giving up distance in matches playing from the white tees, but is more than capable of making up for it with her putter.

Papa knows it won’t be easy and wants to win this year because she knows the competition is only going to get Tougher.

“I want to win before my sister Vinny comes in,” Papa said. “I know most of the girls who I’ve played with before that are all in the top four. I think it’ll be a good tournament. ”

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