Anna Davis suffers 4-stroke penalty at Augusta National Women’s Amateur
EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Rose Zhang holds a first-round lead after setting an Augusta National Women’s Amateur record during a bogey-free first round Wednesday at Champions Retreat.
But it was a four-stroke penalty against the defending champion that caused a buzz Wednesday.
Zhang, who’s ranked at the top worldwide, thinks her game “is in a pretty consistent, good direction.”
Looking ahead to the next round, “Hopefully, I can continue like that the next couple days,” the Stanford sophomore said.
But the story was different for last year’s winner, Anna Davis, who was hit with a four-stroke penalty on the first hole because of some confusion over the rules.
Missing the fairway at first and thinking preferred lies were in effect throughout the course, she picked up her ball in the rough, cleaned it and replaced it. Then she again missed the green in the rough and did the same thing.
Preferred lies are a rule that in adverse conditions – like mud from recent storms – you can mark the spot and lift the ball, clean it and place it again.
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But this week at Champions Retreat, that rule only applies to areas cut to fairway height or less.
Davis was penalized four strokes for twice playing from a wrong place. That raised her score on the hole from 5 to 9.
The penalty shook her at first, but she was in good spirits later.
“A little rough start to the day,” she said. “That’s alright; it happens.”
She called it a learning experience.
“I was a little taken aback, but I had a good round after that,” she said. “My game feels in a good place.”
Going into the tournament, all eyes were on the 17-year-old whose bucket hat last year created a fashion sensation.
She’s among an international field of 72 women competing in the 54-hole championship.
Rounds 1 and 2 are at Champions Retreat in Columbia County, then the action moves to Augusta National Golf Club, where all competitors will play a practice round Friday.
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On Saturday, the leading 30 players and ties from Wednesday’s and Thursday’s play will advance to the final round.
At the top of the leader board right now with 66 is Zhang, who had six birdies Wednesday.
It’s the lowest-scoring round in tournament history.
Zhang says she’s especially inspired by the presence of Dr. Condoleezza Rice – the Augusta National Golf Club member who served as secretary of state and national security adviser under President George W. Bush.
“I think just her presence in general is already rewarding on its own. She doesn’t need to say much,” Zhang said. “You can just see her, see her presence and kind of know what you need to do. No matter what, at the end of the day, you hold your head up high and continue to make sure that you’re playing for more than just yourself and you’re playing for everyone around you.”
No. 2 on the leader board is Andrea Lignell, who scored birdies on 9, 10 and 11 and stands five under par at 67.
Asked how it felt to be in that position after the first round, she said: “It does feel great because how nervous I was before the round today.”
Now she says it feels good “just knowing that I could just go out there and have fun.”
At No. 3 with 69 is the University of Georgia’s Jenny Bae, who made back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 and is three under par.
Even though so many of the other players came here from around the world, Bae doesn’t necessarily feel she has a home advantage as a Georgian.
“To me, this is also just as big of a tournament as any other player out here,” she said.
Still, she said she feels a sense of pride being here, having grown up in the Peach State.
Looking ahead to Thursday, she said there’s only one thing to do:
“Just take it hole by hole, and everything else is just kind of an external factor.”
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