Field is set for final round of Augusta National Women’s Amateur
EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After a day of delays and a four-way playoff for the last spot, the field is set for the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur tournament on Saturday.
Second-round play resumed on a beautiful Friday morning far different from the soaking-wet Thursday that delayed the second round’s start until 3 p.m.
Eventually, the round had to be suspended due to darkness Thursday night. But by the time the round was finished Friday morning, Latanna Stone of the United States and Beatrice Wallin of Sweden were at the top with an even-par 144.
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Winning the four-hole playoff for the last spot in Saturday’s 30-person final round was Paula Schulz-Hanssen of Germany. It happened to be her 19th birthday.
The tournament started Wednesday with 72 women in the field. Once past the second round at Champions Retreat, the top 30 advance to the final round on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club — after an afternoon of practice rounds at Augusta National. Even those who were eliminated got to participate on Friday at Augusta National.
At the top
Stone and Wallin go into Saturday tied at the top of the leaderboard.
Starting on No. 10, Stone was able to save par after her ball plugged in the bunker on No. 7. She joined Wallin at the top after a birdie on No. 8. The Louisiana State University junior finished both of her rounds at even-par 72 in her debut.
“I’m really pumped to play Augusta,” Stone said. “I’ve just been trying to keep it simple, not trying to do anything special ... just trying to stay patient.”
Speaking ahead of the practice round, she said she’d be “just kind of enjoying the golf course and being grateful that I made it here.”
Wallin held a share of the lead on Thursday evening as play was suspended. The Florida State senior finished her last two holes on Friday morning with pars for a second-round 71. Wallin has now made the cut in all three of her appearances in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, finishing in the top 10 in both previous editions.
Wallin, No. 6 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, said she was looking forward to playing Augusta National.
“I’m pretty happy with my game these two-three days,” she said. “I’m just going to go out there — I know a lot can change — I’m just going to take it hole by hole and shot by shot and see how far it will take me.”
But she admitted: “It’s a tough course. A lot can happen.”
However it goes, “I’m just gonna go out there with a big smile and see whatever happens, happens,” she said.
Wallin and Stone were followed by Amari Avery of the United States, Emma Spitz of Austria and Amalie Leth-Nissen of Denmark, who were all tied at 145 total.
Late Friday morning, four players were in a sudden-death playoff for the 30th spot. Ultimately, Schulz-Hanssen of Germany prevailed, beating out Alexandra Forsterling of Germany, Auston Kim of the United States and Amanda Sambach of the United States.
All four made par at the first playoff hole, the par-4 10th, to advance to the par-3 11th, before a Forsterling bogey at the 11th and a Kim bogey at the 17th left Sambach and Schulz-Hanssen remaining.
After both players laid up at the par-5 18th, Germany’s Schulz-Hanssen two-putted for par to claim the final spot.
“I’m so excited, and it’s even my birthday,” Schulz-Hanssen said after the playoff. “So that’s like a great present for myself. I’m very excited, and I’m very proud.”
Schulz-Hanssen is one of 20 newcomers playing the final round.
One woman who’s no stranger to this course is Austria’s Emma Spitz.
Spitz has played in all three Augusta National Women’s Amateur tournaments.
She finished 30th in 2019.
Last year, she tied for third, and that’s where she sits heading into the final round.
She’s leaning on her experience with this course to help her tomorrow.
“The key is it’s really good to hit the fairways because, if you’re on the fairways, you can go for pins and use the slopes to your advantage,” she said. “I think once you miss the fairways, it’s kind of really hard to put yourself in position on the greens. So I’m just going to try to hit a lot of fairways and hit some greens and maybe make a few putts.
How Friday played out
Following delays due to inclement weather and suspension of the second round on Thursday evening, there were 21 groups left to complete the second round Friday morning.
Thursday night’s co-leader Amari Avery bogeyed her first hole on Friday morning. With a chance to rejoin the leaders, Avery missed a birdie putt on No. 18 to finish at one-over-par 145 in a tie for third place with Austria’s Emma Spitz and Denmark’s Amalie Leth-Nissen.
“Compared to last year, I think I played obviously much better,” said Avery, who lost in last year’s playoff at Champions Retreat. “I’m sitting comfortably so I can relax a little bit, head over to Augusta, do a practice round, and just get ready for tomorrow.”
First-round co-leaders Benedetta Moresco and Anna Davis, as well as Stanford senior Aline Krauter, sit tied for sixth at two-over-par 146.
Fighting to make the cut, top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang kept her composure and birdied her last three holes to move into a tie for ninth place. She is joined by Stanford teammates Krauter and Rachel Heck, the No. 3 player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Avery Zweig, the youngest player in the field at 15 and a three-time Drive, Chip and Putt national finalist, made the cut in her Augusta National Women’s Amateur debut at five over par.
Among the initial competitors with ties to Georgia or South Carolina were:
- Jenny Bae of Suwanee, Ga., who attends the University of Georgia.
- Jensen Castle of West Columbia, S.C.
- Anna Morgan of Spartanburg, S.C., who attends Furman.
- Ivy Shepherd of Peachtree City, Ga., who attends Clemson.
- Hannah Darling of Scotland, who attends the University of South Carolina.
By the end of the second round, Shepherd was tied for ninth with 147, Morgan was tied for 16th with 148 and Shepherd was tied for ninth with 147. Bae and Castle didn’t make the cut.
Castle is a first timer in the tournament, but she’s played the course before.
A member brought her out in December, so she’s been able to get a feel for the course.
She talked about what that experience was like and what a realistic score is for her Saturday.
“I mean, it’s amazing. Super pure, really hilly, actually,” she said. “Greens are extremely grainy, but it’s an awesome golf course. Hopefully around even. I don’t know where the pin locations are or anything like that, and I haven’t seen the course today. But the course is pure, so anything around even, I’m sure.”
Who’s advancing to final round?
- Beatrice Wallin, Sweden, 144
- Latanna Stone, United States, 144
- Amari Avery, United States, 145
- Emma Spitz, Austria, 145
- Amalie Leth-Nissen, Denmark, 145
- Anna Davis, United States, 146
- Aline Krauter, Germany, 146
- Benedetta Moresco, Italy, 146
- Shinsil Bang, South Korea, 147
- Jensen Castle, United States, 147
- Rose Zhang, United States, 147
- Caley McGinty, England, 147
- Kirsten Rudgeley, Australia, 147
- Hailey Borja, United States, 147
- Alexa Pano, United States, 147
- Ingrid Lindblad, Sweden, 148
- Caitlyn Macnab, South Africa, 148
- Anna Morgan, United States, 148
- Rin Yoshida, Japan, 148
- Ashley Menne, United States, 148
- Avani Prashanth, India, 149
- Xiaowen Yin, China, 149
- Meja Ortengren, Sweden, 149
- Avery Zweig, United States, 149
- Hannah Darling, Scotland, 149
- Rachel Kuehn, United States, 149
- Antonia Malate, United States, 149
- Liqi Zeng, China, 149
- Rachel Heck, United States, 149
- Paula Schulz-Hanssen, Germany, 150
- Last year, Tsubasa Kajitani won in a playoff to become the first player from Japan ever to win a tournament at Augusta National. Hideki Matsuyama quickly became the second after winning the Masters last year.
- Emilia Migliaccio nearly won last year (she lost in the playoff to Kajitani), but she’s back this year after coming so close last year.
- Rose Zhang is the No. 1 ranked women’s amateur in the world. She nearly joined Kajitani and Migliaccio in the playoff last year, but missed a birdie putt on 18 by inches. She’s back this year.
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