Three current Georgia Bulldogs are playing golf in Augusta this week, with a chance to win on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. But this isn’t the Masters, this is the 2nd Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA). A tournament started in 2019 by the Augusta National Golf Club to grow the women’s game. And staying true to the roots of club co-founder Bobby Jones, it is a tournament for amateurs.
Played so close to the Masters, the tournament will begin play for the entire field at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club (it’s no slouch itself, however you measure other courses). The 81 ladies will play Wednesday 3/31 and Thursday 4/1 at Champions Retreat, then a cut is made for the top 30 golfers in stroke play. Everyone, even those not making the cut, are invited to play a practice round on Friday, April 2nd at Augusta National. Then the final round will be at Augusta National on Saturday, April 3rd for those top 30 players, and with coverage on NBC.
The field is made up of Women’s Amateur champions, Junior Girls champions, the top 30 amateurs in the US and the top 30 amateurs not otherwise qualified. So there will be some youngsters in the field (maybe age 15 or 16), and the current #1 amateur in the world is a 17 year old Californian who will attend Stanford this coming fall. But best of all, there will be multiple Lady Dawgs teeing it up.
Candice Mahe is a sophomore in Athens, but arrived on campus as the #30 ranked amateur in the world. So she was qualified for the 2020 ANWA before its cancelation due to COVID-19. The tournament committee is allowing those qualified for last year’s version to receive an invite this year as well (if not otherwise qualified). A native of France, she had a distinguished junior career, representing and winning for both France and Europe in several team championships.
Isabella Holpfer is a native Austrian, and is spending her first season at UGA as a freshman. She too, qualified for the 2020 ANWA, and is taking advantage of the opportunity. Also like Mahe, Isabella played for many junior European teams and had a bevy of top 5 finishes in various Women’s and Girl’s amateur tournaments across the pond. She hopes to major in Journalism. I heard UGA has a nice little upstart program in that field.
Caterina Don is spending her second season at UGA, having played quite a bit in her native Italy over the summer and doing quite well (which we covered last summer). Don has flirted with the top 30 amateur ranking on an off for a year or so, but technically is using her 2020 ANWA invite this year. Don is the top player on Coach Josh Brewer’s roster, having recorded a record-tying 64 earlier this spring and boosting the Bulldog’s chances every time they hit the course.
Several other collegiate programs have representation in the field, but let’s face it... we don’t care about them. I just like that we have current Georgia Bulldogs playing in Augusta this week, several former Bulldogs playing in the Masters next week (foreshadowing!!), and this Sunday’s Drive, Chip, & Putt championship could have some future Bulldogs on display. Not to mention, you get a little sneak preview of the Masters course before the pros even drive down Magnolia Lane.
Since I’ve given up basketball
for the rest of my life until this fall, my focus and many millions of eyes will turn to the CSRA and get to see ‘Dawgs chasing little white balls. And as always...