Zhang wins title in Augusta National Women’s Amateur
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After the second playoff in the four years of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Rose Zhang took the tournament title.
Zhang, the top-ranked woman amateur in the world, went up against Georgia’s own Jenny Bae in the playoff.
The sudden-death playoff began on the 18th hole, where both scored a par four, before moving on to the 10th hole. And that’s where Zhang took the win after Bae’s ball ended up in a bunker.
Before the playoff, Bae’s score for the tournament was 69 in the first round, 68 in the second and 70 in the third.
Zhang’s was 66 in the first round, 65 in the second and 76 in the third.
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Bae was gracious about Zhang’s victory.
“I mean, I tried, but Rose, she had a fantastic day,” Bae said. “Hat’s off to her.”
Despite how it turned out, the experience was so rewarding for Bae, wi reflected afterward on how it might help her pro career.
“It will definitely give me a lot of confidence, especially I just shot nine-under in one of the most stressful and pressuring environments,” she said. “I can just take so much from this. Once I start my Epson TOUR career, I’ll be a lot more confident heading in.”
Zhang went into the final round Saturday far ahead but saw that lead shrink through the day. After a morning that was rougher for her than the first two rounds, she seemed to be getting back in her zone in the afternoon.
But Bae was reaching her stride, too, in the late afternoon, catching up to Zhang in the last couple of holes.
“I feel like it’s always difficult to have such a big lead, especially on such a prestigious stage,” Zhang said after she won. “When things matter the most and you have a big lead but the job’s not done, it definitely puts a lot of things into perspective.”
Winning the title fulfills a huge goal for Zhang.
“I greatly wanted to win this, and it was just such a – it was a huge desire, but at the same time, I didn’t want myself to get too ahead in terms of my thinking and where my head was at,” she said. “But I feel like coming back here for the fourth time is just such an honor. I think that I’m grateful to have these last couple years. Just getting the invite is a special moment, let alone playing in the final round all four times.”
She acknowledged that her game was different at Augusta National than the first two rounds she breezed through at Champions Retreat.
“The entire atmosphere of Augusta National is just a whole ‘nother level of prestige,” she said. “I realize that, and I think I keep that in the back of my mind. So I really, really do love this golf course. Sometimes it’s just interesting that I never really get my A game when I’m out here. When I was out at Champions, it felt so easy to me. Everything just came to me. I was making putts. I was hitting greens. But when you’re out here, one mistake, like I said before, is magnified.”
FINAL ROUND PHOTO GALLERY:
Earlier, play paused for three and a half hours due to weather conditions. During the break, rain and high winds lashed the region as thunder rumbled. After play resumed at 1:50 p.m., the sun came out but gusts lingered.
And even after play resumed, the wind was still a factor.
“It’s just swirling,” Lignell said after she finished. “Especially when you’re down by Amen Corner and stuff, you have to be really careful with the wind. That was for sure the biggest challenge for me.”
The final round began for 31 competitors at 7:40 a.m. after Rounds 1 and 2 Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat and then a practice round Friday at Augusta National.
Zhang stayed in control for most of Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club, but it seemed tougher for her than the first two rounds at Champions Retreat, where she set another record Thursday to go into Saturday with a five-stroke lead.
The Stanford player double-bogeyed the first hole Saturday with a 6.
With winds already picking up ahead of a front that was moving in, she teed off at 8:50 a.m. with her dad on the bag. She immediately sent the ball into a bunker – the same one that had just vexed South Africa’s Caitlyn Macnab. Zhang got out of the bunker with a roughly 40-yard shot.
Zhang got through the second hole with four strokes, going into the third hole with a four-shot lead. Then she made par on the third hole, leading with six going into the fourth hole. She bogeyed the fourth hole, which left her with a five-shot lead.
She ended up in a bunker again right away at the fifth hole, but got the ball out of it, eventually bogeying. She made par on the sixth hole and bogeyed the seventh.
After the weather delay, Zhang made par on the eighth hole, while Lignell birdied.
Bae, who plays for the University of Georgia, was coming up behind Zhang after the weather delay, finding herself in the No. 3 spot, playing an even par and just two behind Zhang after the first nine holes.
Zhang and Lignell both made par on the 10th. Then Lignell birdied the 11th and Zhang made par, and they both did the same on the 12th hole, for Zhang’s fifth par in a row.
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Bae started closing in on Zhang as the afternoon went on, with a birdie on the 13th hole. Zhang also birdied the 13th hole, and Lignell made par.
Zhang made par on the 14th hole to maintain her two-stroke lead at 10 under, two over Bae and four over Lignell.
But then she shot right into the water at the 15th hole and eventually bogeyed with a six. Lignell and Zhang both made par on the 16th.
Bae then birdied the 17th hole, tying her with Zhang for the lead and leading to the playoff.
There for the start of the final round on Saturday was Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state who’s an Augusta National member. Also there was Swedish professional golfer Annika Sörenstam.
The collection of patrons – watching in groups three or four deep – was full families and kids.
As always, merchandise was popular among the patrons, who carried bags and bags of purchases, many after waiting in a line that stretched from the patron shop nearly to the entrance gate.
PRACTICE ROUND PHOTO GALLERY:
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