The daunting task of stepping into the halls of Athens Drive High School for the first time didn’t faze incoming freshman Emilia Migliaccio.
“Honestly, I’m a little more nervous standing over a 5-foot, downhill, left-to-right putt for par than starting high school,” she said. “I’ve experienced plenty of pressure situations on the golf course, and I really think that has helped to prepare me for life in high school.”
The 14-year old Migliaccio has already accomplished a great deal both on and off the golf course, enjoying a fruitful summer in some of the biggest events.
She won the North Carolina Trusted Choice Big I Tournament held July 13-14 at Pine Needles by two shots.
She finished second – three shots behind the winner – in the Big I National Tournament held Aug. 5-8 at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, the highest finish from a female North Carolina golfer since the event began including a girls championship in 1993.
She was the runner-up in the North Carolina Junior Girls Championship and a semifinalist in the Carolinas Junior at Wyboo Golf Club in Manning, S.C, two prestigious match play events, and was a member of the Carolinas team that played against a team of players representing Virginia-Maryland in the Mid-Atlantic Girls Challenge in late July.
She capped her summer with a runner-up finish at the Joe Cheves Invitational at Mimosa Hills in Morganton, where she carded an impressive 6-under 66 in the final round only to be outdone by an 8-under 64 by eventual winner Renoa Hirai of Summerville, S.C., who won by one shot.
With credentials as impressive as those it’s no wonder she is the No. 1 ranked girls player in the state and 13th overall nationally in the Class of 2017, according to JuniorGolfScoreboard.com.
You could say that the game is in her blood.
Her mother, Ulrika, played for the Swedish National team, was a teammate of Annika Sorenstam at Arizona, and was a volunteer assistant coach at N.C. State for five years.
“I’ve been swinging a club for as long as I can remember, really since about the time I could walk,” Migliaccio said. “I think I started going to the range with my mom when I was about 4, and I remember always wanting to hit the PING sign with my driver. I played in my first tournament when I was 10.”
Her success at the Big I State Tournament this summer even came as somewhat of a shock to her.
“Even though I felt very comfortable at Pine Needles, I knew there would be a lot of strong competition,” she said. “I shot a 72 in the first round and was shocked that I was leading.”
She followed with a 68 in the second round to secure the win and claim one of three automatic spots for the national tournament from a field of 51 players.
“I’m very comfortable with Pine Needles because I’ve played it a few times,” she said. “I was very excited to know I would be moving on to play against some great competition from all over the country.
“The national tournament was also a tremendous experience. Playing in and representing my home state was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of support from everyone.”
Off the course, Migiliaccio does her part to provide support for a worthwhile cause.
When she was 11, she was reading a magazine article about a young girl who decided to raise money for earthquake relief in Haiti by taking pledges for every lap she swam in a pool.
Migliaccio decided she wanted to do something impactful that involved golf.
Since the game she played is outdoors, she wanted to take on skin cancer.
She created Birdies for Skin Cancer and asked her family and friends as well as members of her club, MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary, to donate $1 for every birdie she made when she played.
Her goal was to bring in $1,000 in the first year, and she eclipsed $3,500. The fund is still going strong and has risen close to $10,000.
“It’s just something I wanted to try to bring awareness to since so many people who play golf can be impacted by skin cancer,” she said. “I hope I can keep bringing awareness to it as long as I’m playing.”