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The world’s best women’s amateur players are set to tee off at one of the most important pathway events in women’s golf – which includes an incredibly exciting privilege for all competitors.
The Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) was established in 2018 to inspire greater interest and participation in the women’s game – and all the participants will be dreaming about taking that trip down Magnolia Lane.
Jennifer Kupcho won the inaugural tournament in 2019 before turning professional, while the 2020 championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan’s 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani became the first international winner in 2021.
72 international players (33 Americans and 39 internationals), including 22 of the top 25 and 41 of the top 50 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings, are competing. 24 countries are represented with Japan leading the international contingent with four players, followed by China, Germany, South Korea and Sweden with three each.
The players compete over an initial 36 holes of stroke play at the Island nine and Bluff nine at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Georgia on Wednesday, March 30, and Thursday, March 31. The whole field then gets the fantastic opportunity to play at Augusta National for an official practice round on Friday, April 1.
The top 30 players who made the cut after 36 holes make it to the final round, also at Augusta National. At the end of the final round (the 54th hole) the winner will be decided by sudden-death playoff.
As long as the winner of the 2022 ANWA remains an amateur for the duration that the winning benefits are on offer, she will receive an invitation to the next five Augusta National Women’s Amateurs, the 2022 US Women’s Open, the 2022 Women’s British Open, and any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur championships for which she is eligible for one year.
Defending champion and world number five amateur player Tsubasa Kajitani is not competing, but the world’s number one ranked amateur is. 18-year-old American Rose Zhang is the hottest prospect in the women’s amateur game, having made the jump from junior golf to collegiate golf in style, winning her first four events as a freshman at Stanford.
Having already won the US Girl’s Junior Amateur trophy and the US Women’s Amateur, she’s now focused on the 2022 ANWA – the one that got away in 2021 when a calamitous final-round triple-bogey at Amen Corner saw her finish T-3.
Along with Zhang, six players who finished in the top 10 a year ago are playing: Emilia Migliaccio (runner-up), Rachel Heck (T-3), Ingrid Lindblad (T-3), Emma Spitz, (T-3), and Beatrice Wallin (T-10).
Golf fans the world over know all about Augusta National, but what about the nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club where the first two rounds will be 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.
Most holes on the Island are laid out in the middle of the Savannah River, the Bluff nine features elevation changes and is the most similar to Augusta National, while the Creek has most holes winding around wetlands. All three are markedly different, making for a great golf offering with a whole world of shot-making possibilities.