Latanna Stone: Easy Does It
Tied for the lead heading into the final round of the ANWA, all eyes are on a humble Stone as she finds her way again
By Jordan Perez
AUGUSTA, Ga.—After a messy Thursday that pushed her second round back by more than seven hours, Latanna Stone resumed the second round of the Augusta National Women’s Invitational at 7:30 a.m Friday morning on the par-4 7th hole at Champions Retreat. She immediately plugged her tee shot into the face of a bunker. Good morning. She escaped with a par that had all the jolt of a cup of coffee, and Stone was off and running. She tidied up a 72 that left her tied for the lead, with Beatrice Wallin. Stone credited her mental toughness for her fine play so far at the ANWA, but developing that flintiness has been months in the making.
Deja vu out of Baton Rouge
Stone is used to being the newbie. She is the youngest of five children, and it’s been ten years since she set the record as the youngest competitor in the history of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, at age 10. The first-time ANWA competitor has posted back-to-back even-par rounds, the kind of consistency she has been seeking.
At the outset of her LSU career, Stone was frustrated by her up-and-down play. “I would average one or two three-putts a round, and I was just like – why?” she says. She also found herself struggling with her driver, recalling “spraying it everywhere” in the fall of 2021.
Stone rededicated herself to working with a team of coaches—putting, mental, and swing—over her winter break of 2021 and the payoff was almost immediate. She won two major titles (the Dixie Women’s Amateur and Women’s Orlando International Amateur), sprinting up the WAGR ranking to earn her invite to Augusta. Now Stone is on the verge of the kind of breakthrough many have long expected.
LSU grad Kendall Griffin recalls a long-ago 9-hole junior golf event where Stone put her on notice: “I thought I had won, then this sweet little 7-year-old came in with a 36.” Griffin later played a huge influence in Stone’s decision to commit to LSU.
But her introduction to the spotlight came much earlier when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at ages 10 and 12; she remains the youngest to ever qualify. “It was extremely tough at 10 to get all of that attention when she got it,” her father, Mike Stone, says. “She was getting media requests all over the country, places all over the world.”
Stone has long been a darling of the amateur golf world but, truthfully, it’s not her preference. She’d much rather fly under the radar, which perfectly reflects her style of play. “I’m definitely just a simple player: fairways, greens, and two-putts. Nothing special.” Griffin confirms her best friend’s humility: “She’s not going to brag about herself. She talks with her clubs.”
That might turn out to be the perfect formula for the ANWA’s looming final round at Augusta National.