Sunshine Ladies Tour: Route to stardom
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Sunshine Ladies Tour: Route to stardom
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The Augusta National Women’s Amateur is a 54-hole tournament that gives amateur women players a glamorous pathway to the professional game. The 2023 edition is coming up.
It was established in 2018 as a new and exciting opportunity for amateur players to advance their careers – as well as the chance for them to play on the hallowed fairways of Augusta. All the participants in 2023 will be dreaming about taking that trip down Magnolia Lane.
This year’s tournament (Mar 29 – April 1) promises to be the most competitive yet. The previous three tournaments have coincided with the Chevron Championship, which meant top female amateurs had to choose between the two. The Chevron will now take place in late April, allowing amateurs to participate in both tournaments.
Players to watch out for this year are the top two in the world amateur rankings, American Rose Zhang and Swede Ingrid Lindblad. Also, 2022 and 2021 champions Anna Davis and Tsubasa Kajitani will be there, along with other big talents such as Amari Avery, Saki Baba, Megha Ganne, Emilia Migliaccio and Erica Shepherd.
The 2023 tournament will feature an international field of 72 amateurs competing over 54 holes of stroke play. There will be a cut after 36 holes, with the top 30 players and ties advancing to the final round when the champion will be crowned. In the event of a tie after 54 holes, the winner will be decided by a sudden-death playoff.
The first 36 holes will be contested over two days at the Island and Bluff nines at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta, on March 29 and 30.
The whole field will then play at Augusta National for a practice round on Friday, March 31. The final round will then take place at the famous venue on Saturday, April 1 featuring all the competitors who made the cut.
The 2023 ANWA champion, provided she stays an amateur, will be invited to play at the next five Augusta National Women’s Amateurs, the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2023 Women’s British Open, and any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur championship for which she is eligible for, for one year.
The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) championship was played in 2019 and was won by American Jennifer Kupcho, the world’s top-ranked amateur. The event in 2020, however, was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021, 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani became the first international ANWA champion and the first Japanese winner at Augusta National in any tournament with her playoff victory over Emilia Migliaccio. In 2022, 16-year-old American Anna Davis became the youngest ever champion with a 3-under 69 in the final round.
The event is attracting more and more interest each year and is supported by five presenting partners: AT&T, Bank of America, IBM, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex. The men’s professional Masters takes place just a week later, on April 6-9.
Women’s golf has come a long way in the last decade – and so has Augusta National. As recently as 2012, the famous venue still refused to formally admit women as members. That year the club finally changed policy, admitting former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore as its first female members in its 80-year history.
Golf fans the world over know all about Augusta National, but what about the nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club where the first two rounds of the ANWA championship are held? The club, located 15 miles from Augusta National, will host the event across Arnold Palmer’s Island nine for the first round, and Jack Nicklaus’ Bluff nine for the second round.
The story goes that at the 1999 Champions Dinner at The Masters, Nicklaus, Palmer and Gary Player drew lots to see which of the to-be-built nines at Champions Retreat Golf Club they would design. Jack got the Bluff, Arnold the Island, and Gary the Creek.