After being cancelled in 2020, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur returns this week. Here is all you need to know, including the format, players to watch and details of both courses.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: American Jennifer Kupcho won’t be defending her title this week having found her way on to the LPGA Tour as a professional since her victory in 2019.
Kupcho battled Mexico’s Maria Fassi on the final day eventually claiming a four shot win after a stellar back nine performance.
COURSES: The opening two rounds will be played on Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans, Georgia close to Augusta, before the field is cut from 82 to 30 for the final round to be played at Augusta National home of The Masters. Every one of the players qualifying for the event getting the chance to play Augusta during Friday’s practise round.
Earning its name due to having nine holes designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, Champions Retreat’s Bluff and Island nines will host the opening two rounds this week.
Designed by Nicklaus, the Bluff loop takes advantage of undulating terrain to create significant elevation changes, while Palmer’s Island nine plays closest to the Savannah River.
Known to golfers around the world, Augusta National was laid out by Dr. Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones.
The course’s famed Amen Corner was the sight of much excitement in 2019, when Kupcho struck a hybrid onto the green of the par-5 13th and converted for eagle to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck.
The tournament website lists the total yardage for the final round at 6,665 yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Set to study at Stanford in her home state of California, the same university attended by Tiger Woods, 17-year-old Rose Zhang enters this week as one of the favourites.
The winner of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur in extra holes over the defending champion Aussie Gabi Ruffels, Zhang will tee it up this week despite recently battling a wrist injury while also giving up the opportunity to play the ANA Inspiration, an LPGA major also held this week.
Zhang finished T11 at the postponed ANA last year and T17 at the 2019 staging of this event at just 15, giving her the advantage of experience as well as an outstanding form line over the past 12 months that has earnt her the No.1 spot in the women’s amateur rankings.
RIGHT: Jennifer Kupcho has turned pro since she captured the inaugural title in 2019. PHOTO: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
The lone Aussie in the field, Grace Kim, told this publication in 2020 “I’ve just got to be ready for whenever the tournament might happen” when the event was cancelled and now gets her chance.
Having changed her plans to turn professional by the end of last year in part to tee it up here, the 20-year-old will be looking to make the most of her trip to Georgia before eventually returning home and undergoing two weeks quarantine.
The Sydneysider finished 2020 with some good results, including a semi-final appearance at the Women’s Australian Amateur and victories at the NSW Amateur and Avondale Amateur, before winning the Australian Amateur in 2021. And having been announced as the latest Karrie Webb scholarship winner alongside Western Australia’s Kirsten Rudgeley this week will have some extra bounce in her step.
54-HOLE RECORD: Maiden winner Kupcho reached 10-under (206) when she claimed the title in 2019.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No previous Australian winner.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Grace Kim.
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 3am – 6am)
*AEST, check local guides.