Tony Pancake couldn’t miss this, especially on Father’s Day.
The Crooked Stick Golf Club head pro was watching his daughter, Annabelle Pancake, play on a livestream in the R&A The Women’s Amateur Championship June 17 at Prince’s Golf Club in England, while Crooked Stick was hosting a member-guest event at the Carmel club. Annabelle, a 2020 Zionsville Community High School graduate and Clemson University golfer, won her quarterfinal and semifinal matches in match play.
It was around noon in Carmel when Annabelle won her semifinal match and Tony knew he had to get there for the next day’s championship.
“I was fortunate to find the last seat on an American Airlines flight,” Tony said. “It was a whirlwind trip. I landed in London at 6:50 in the morning. She teed off at 8:30. I had to rent a car and drive to the golf course, which is about 90 miles away. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get there.”
Tony missed the first eight holes but was listening to it in the car.
“It was such a joy to be there and so much fun for me to watch her play that afternoon,” he said.
The match ended up going 30 holes, with Annabelle losing 7 and 6 to Chiara Horder in the 36-hole final.
“Chiara deserved to win. In 30 holes, she made eight birdies and one bogey and was 7-under-par,” Tony said. “Annabelle was even par. It was more Chiara winning than Annabelle losing.”
Several Crooked Stick members encouraged him to go and chipped in to help pay for the flight, which cost more than $4,000.
“Quite honestly, I thought Annabelle would win because she was playing so well,” he said. “But I’m really glad I was there because it gave me a chance to reassure her there was not a winner and a loser. She finished second out of 144 of the best (female amateurs) in the world. There was a lot to be proud of.”
Annabelle said Horder played awesomely in the final.
“She totally earned it,” Annabelle said. “I say this was the most exciting, most rewarding (tournament). Even though I didn’t win, I keep telling people it was a win in my book because getting to be there was such a blessing and great opportunity.”
Annabelle said having her parents attend was “super cool and special.”
Libby Pancake caddied for her daughter during the match play portion.
Annabelle said either her dad, swing coach or boyfriend usually caddies for her.
“But my mom was the only one with me and we ended up having a blast, so it was totally worth it,” she said.
Annabelle said the journey to the final was more of a mental battle than physical.
“You really have to stay focused for that amount of time and stay committed because you are playing golf basically all day,” Annabelle said. “You have to stay mentally in it and not burn yourself out. I have to remember to enjoy it and not put so much pressure on myself.”
Annabelle loves match play.
“You can kick your game into a different gear,” she said. “I love to play aggressively. I feel it’s a time where I can be real aggressive because there is nothing to lose. If you lose one hole, you are only one down. I think it fits well for my game.”
At the North & South Women’s Amateur Championship at Pinehurst, N.C., earlier this month, Annabelle finished in a tie for seventh during stroke play and won her first match play match before being eliminated July 14 in the round of 16.
The summer makes her optimistic about the collegiate season. Clemson won the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s golf team title for the first time in 2023.
“I’m excited for my final year at Clemson because we are not really losing anyone,” she said. “We’re going to be just as good if not better.”