When it comes to 13-year-old Chloe Kovelesky’s game, the comparisons to other top female golfers are endless.
Boca Woods Country Club Director of Golf Jeremy Moe has long been a fan. Moe recounts this year’s Labor Day scramble, when Kovelesky was paired with best friend and fellow 13-year-old Kayla Bryant, Dave Cunliffe and Boca Woods President Bob Schachter.
“Chloe had 84 yards into the 10th green (the team’s first hole) and she knocked it in for an eagle,” Moe said. “On their next hole, the par 5, 11th, Chloe made a natural double eagle, holing out for a 2 on the par 5. Certainly, there is some luck involved in incredible shots like this, but that is crazy!”
Kovelesky showed in mid-October she could compete with anyone as she easily won the club championship at Boca Woods on 5-under-par 139 while playing from the men’s tees with a wind touching 30 mph.
“It was cool,” said Kovelesky, who won by an astounding 18 shots. “I knew I had a chance to win if I played good, but there were some really good men.
“I played the best I could and came out on top. It was a great experience and everyone was really supportive,” added Kovelesky, an eighth-grader taking classes online. “I was surprised that I won by that much because I wasn’t keeping track of everyone’s score. I was trying to go as low as I could go.”
Moe said her success and length off the tee motivated her to write to the golf committee requesting permission to play in the Men’s Club Championship.
“The committee decided the club championship should be an event designed to identify the best golfer … regardless of age or gender,” Moe said. “We created an Open Division for any player that didn’t fit the category of ‘Man.’”
The event was contested on both Boca Woods courses. The Lakes Course measured 6,814 yards and was “soaking wet” that day. Kovelesky fired a bogey-free 69 for a 5-shot lead over defending champion Dennis Choat. The second round was played on the Woods Course, which was playing just under 6,700 yards. Kovelesky shot a 2-under 70.
“I reflected on what this 13-year-old just accomplished,” Moe said. “What other players, in the history of the game would have been capable of shooting 5 under from that yardage? I thought of names like Lexi Thompson – she was probably beating up men when she was 13.
“Mickey Wright?” Moe continued. “Was she a champion at 13? She was a wonderful player and hit a really long ball. Laura Davies? Did she play junior golf? Certainly, she would have been a long hitter as a teenager. Michell Wie was probably really long at that age, but did she have the complete game? Suzy Whaley competed against men. Was she long enough off the tee at 13 to have been winning overall club championships?”
Kovelesky’s driver head speed tops 105 mph; she hits a 7-iron 175 yards.
The comparisons aren’t lost on Kovelesky, who also played well on the Eggland’s Best National Women’s Golf Association tour with five Top-5 and eight Top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish in the Falcons Fire Club tournament in September.
“I feel good that I’m being compared to some really good pros,” she said. “I know one day I will have the opportunity to play as good as them and maybe compete with them.”
Kovelesky, became known early when she was one of eight young golfers featured with their daddy caddies on the golf reality show on Esquire Network, The Short Game. She also competed in the Drive, Pitch and Putt competition four years ago with Bryant, also a Boca Woods resident.
Bryant, a seventh-grader at Loggers Run Middle School, won the Ladies Club Championship on 4-over 148. Ivy Henry was runner-up.
“It was really, really special,” Moe said of the teens’ accomplishments. “Kayla played terrific, 4 over for two rounds on a really hard course, and Chloe played from the tips, 6,800-plus yards and beat all the men by 18 shots.”
It was a nice birthday present for Bryant, who turned 13 just days after the club championships. She said putting is her strong suit and it helped carry her to the title in her tournament debut.
“I’m happy that all my hard work and practice is starting to pay off and I’m looking forward to future tournaments,” Bryant said. “I felt that I didn’t play as well as I could have on the first day, but on the second day I hit more greens and more putts were dropping.”
Bryant was confident going into the tournament and knew she’d also have to defeat her mother, Linda, en route to the championship. Linda Bryant, who has played golf since 2012, finished in fourth.
“I thought anything could happen my mom became more motivated to improve for next year,” Bryant said. “And no, she didn’t ground me (after winning).”
Kovelesky and Bryant also qualified for the inaugural Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championships, a 54-hole event at Koasati Pines at Coushatta in Kinder, La., that will get coverage Dec. 9 on Golf Channel.