Who will emerge victorious in Augusta National Women’s Amateur?

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 1:16 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2023 at 7:04 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. - The competition was on pause but the practice was in full swing for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Friday.

After the first and second rounds at Champions Retreat in Columbia County, the competitors are playing a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club.

While only 31 made the cut, all got to practice Friday at the famed venue.

The final round will be played there Saturday.

At the top right now is Rose Zhang, who set another record Thursday to take a five-shot lead.

Zhang opened with a 6-under 66 at Champions Retreat to set the tournament record. She went one lower Thursday with a 7-under 65 — despite making her only bogey of the tournament — and finished with a long chip to 3 feet for birdie.

She’s got a big lead going into Saturday’s round. The world No. 1 says that comes with its own challenges.

“I think for us as players mentally, we always like to chase, and it’s very normal to be trying to make birdies and not worry about the consequences, but when you’re in the lead, you realize that you’ve been playing well and you want to maintain it,” she said Friday.

“Some players tend to kind of have a loose footing, I guess, with their lead, and they end up trying to play safe or they would think about their lead too much. I’ve definitely felt that before. I’ve definitely had that. With that in mind, the experience will certainly allow me to kind of realize what I need to do when I go out there.”


Will she be nervous Saturday?

“Nerves come in more – at least for me, a little bit night before. I’ve definitely gotten better over the years. Morning of, you have your routine, so it’s not necessarily anything too different from the previous couple rounds you’re playing, and you essentially are just trying to get in the zone,” she said.

“I would say the nerves are more anticipation and kind of trying to go out there and – it’s pretty unpredictable what you have on a daily basis, so I think the unpredictability is certainly a nerve-racking experience.”

Jenny Bae, No. 3 going into the final round, will have a lot of support Saturday, since she’s from Georgia.

“I have a lot of relatives that I haven’t seen in a while and their friends and other people, but I’m more excited to see them than them ever giving me pressure,” she said.

Andrea Lignell, No. 2 going into the final round, was glad for the practice day on Friday.

“I’m kind of enjoying it right now. I think this was like well-needed for me, like a practice round in the middle to get my nerves down to calm down and just have fun today before tomorrow,” she said Friday.


For so many, a chance to play at Augusta National is a treat. To compete there is even better. This is old hat for Zhang. She has made it to the final round of the ANWA all four years it has been played, starting when she was 15 and in high school.

She shared the lead going to Augusta National two years ago, only to take a triple bogey on the par-5 13th to end her chances. Now she leads by five and is playing her best golf.

The final round will include another 15-year-old in Gianna Clemente, who played her first U.S. Women’s Amateur at age 11 and last year made it through Monday qualifying for three consecutive LPGA Tour events.


Clemente showed her mettle Thursday. After opening with a 74 that left her outside the cut, she shot 32 on her second nine for a 69. That included a 50-foot birdie on No. 2.

She has been in awe of Zhang ever since they played a practice round at a junior tournament. She said Zhang did most of the talking. “She asked a few questions and I probably stuttered a few things,” Clemente said.

Anna Davis, the defending champion, never recovered from a four-shot penalty she was assessed on her opening hole Wednesday for lifting and cleaning her golf ball when it wasn’t in the fairway. She had a 9 and shot 76. Davis had a pair of bogeys on par 5s and missed the cut by two shots.

Also making the cut were Amari Avery, the No. 9 player in the women’s amateur ranking, with birdies on her last two holes. The most unlikely to advance was Ting-Hsuan Huang of Taiwan. She opened with a 79 and bounced back with a 66 to make it to the final round with two shots to spare.