The Augusta National Women’s Amateur, cancelled last April due to the pandemic, is back and raring to go.
In 2019 Jennifer Kupcho overcame a two-shot deficit, a migraine headache and a bout of blurred vision to win the inaugural ANWA. The win came just seven years after the club welcomed financier and philanthropist Darla Moore and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as their first female members. Before Kupcho’s back-nine blitz capped by birdies on three of the last four holes including a 20-footer on No. 18, the last woman to win on these hallowed fairways was Caddie Hall of Famer Fanny Sunesson, who was on Nick Faldo’s bag for a decade.
“We believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women’s game,” Augusta National chairman, Fred Ridley, said when announcing the ANWA during his first ever State of the Masters address in 2018. “Our hope and expectation is that this event will further energize those who already love the sport and inspire others through the dream of competing at Augusta National.”
A strong cohort of corporate titans in AT&T, Bank of America
“Our history is one of advancing women’s economic opportunity and empowerment and that’s exactly what we saw in the opportunity with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur,” Andrea Smith, Bank of America’s Chief Administrartive Officer, says.
“Over 50% of our global workforce is made up of women and over a third of our senior management team are women and if you look at our board it’s equally diverse. We saw this as a way to continue our commitment to championing women and providing more pathways and more visibility for women’s progress in all avenues,” adds Smith who also sits on the PGA of America board.
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While the tournament may serve as a stepping stone on the road to the LPGA Tour for top players, participating in competitive sports also seems to be a fertile proving ground for life in a leadership role in corporate America.
“If you look at women holding C-Suite positions, over 90% of them played sports. It’s a great teacher of life, and I think it helps set you up for success. There are so many character traits that carry over into a leadership position,” Smith says.
The first 36 holes of the tourney before the cut will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club. The entire field is invited to play a practice round at Augusta National on April 2nd with the top 30 competitors moving on to play on April 3rd. NBC’s got the final-round action covered Saturday from noon–3 p.m. EDT.
The winner of the prestigious tournament, provided she maintains her amateur status, receives invites to the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2021 Women’s British Open as well as all USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur championships that she is eligible for the next year. In addition, they also gets to return for the next five editions of the ANWA.
Golfers To Watch
World No. 1 and reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Rose Zhang, 17, has committed to attend Stanford in the fall. The 2020 AJGA’s Rolex Junior Player of the Year has already proven she can contend with the pros finishing T-11th at the ANA Inspiration, one of the LPGA’s five major championships. Last week in a Symetra Tour appearance at the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic Zhang was the runner-up, losing to Ruixin Liu in a playoff.
Also keep an eye out for red hot Seminoles junior Beatrice Wallin. The economics major from Sweden topped the leaderboard twice this spring capturing the individual title at the Florida State Match-Up and the Pinetree Women’s Collegiate event. In the inaugural ANWA in 2019 she shot a 1-under-par 71 in the final round to finish T-7.
Another competitor that could catch fire is Pauline Roussin-Bouchard who plays college golf with the University of South Carolina. A long bomber from Toulon in Southern France, last season the Frenchwoman set a new Gamecocks record for freshman scoring average. She currently sits in third spot in the world amateur rankings and has four career college victories under her belt including the Moon Golf Invitational where she went 13 under for 54 holes.