Golf blog: Top girls to watch

Here are some of the top high school girls in Georgia.

Sara Im, Lambert: This junior is the real deal. She is Georgia’s top girl in the American Junior Golf Association rankings. She won the 2020 Georgia Women’s Amateur and tied for seventh in 2021. She and pal Thienna Huyhn from Lilburn qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship and wound up reaching the Round of 16.

After sitting out the first part of the season with an injury, Im returned to compete in the prestigious Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, where she tied for 16th against a national field. In her GHSA spring debut, she shot 73 in brutally windy conditions to win the Parkview Invitational.

Ava Merrill, Rivers Academy: Merrill teamed up with Carrollton’s Loralie Cowart, now a freshman at Georgia, to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball last spring. She had two AJGA victories and eight top-10 finishes. She tied for 22nd at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Averi Cline, Lambert: The senior won the Class 7A championship last year as part of the powerhouse Lambert team that won the state title. She was Forsyth County’s co-player of the year in 2021. She was the Georgia PGA’s Junior Player of the Year in 2019 and recently won the Georgia PGA’s Esther Cannizzo Invitational.

Iris Cao, Lambert: She won the area tournament as a junior and has never finished worse than third for the team in any GHSA event. She tied for 10th to help Lambert win the National High School Golf Association’s championship at Pinehurst. She finished third at the Parkview Invitational. Cao will play golf next year at Dartmouth.

Kate Barber, Frederica Academy: Another powerhouse freshman who emerged at the 2019 Drive, Chip and Putt nationals, where she finished third. Barber has won the Doral Publix Junior National and the Junior Honda Classic. Last year she tied for sixth at the Georgia Girls Championship and teamed up with classmate Jack Roberts to win the GSGA Mixed Team Championship. She is ranked No. 13 on the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour.

Reagan Southerland, Holy Innocents’: The junior won the Class A Private championship last season, claiming first place by four shots. She had a big week at the Georgia Women’s Amateur, finishing in a tie for seventh place, and  tied for 10th at the Georgia Girls Championship.

Mary Miller, Savannah Christian: She’s only a sophomore but has been making a name for herself since qualifying for the National Drive, Chip and Putt competition when she was a kid. Miller finished second at the Class A Private championship last season and finished ninth at the Georgia Girls Championship.

Katherine Cook, Brookwood Academy: The senior had a big week at the Georgia Women’s Amateur, where she tied for third with Clemson’s Ivy Shepherd. She finished 13th at the Georgia Girls Championship. Cook has signed with Florida State.

Mia Sessa, Augusta Prep: The senior has five wins on the Southeastern Junior Tour and has nine top-10 finishes on the AJGA circuit. She has won two region championships and two GISA state titles. Sessa has a 4.3 grade-point average and will play golf at Yale.

Athena Yoo, Lambert: Only a freshman, but capable of playing No. 1 at many other schools. She won her first high school event at the NAJG and posted the only under-par round in the field. She is ranked No. 320 in the AJGA and No. 121 in the Peggy Kirk Bell Golf Tour Nationals.