Augusta National champion Anna Davis, rocking her bucket hat, opens with a 71 in LPGA debut at Palos Verdes

The 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champ admitted to feeling some nerves early in the day.

Anna Davis admitted to feeling some nerves Thursday morning in the lead-up to her LPGA debut. But by the time she got to the tee, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion said she was fine.

It’s a week of firsts for Davis, 16, who hails from Spring Valley, California, but finds herself in the Los Angeles area for the first time.

“I think it was pretty much like every other tournament I would say,” said Davis, who opened with even-par 71 at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America.

“There weren’t like as many people, but I’m expecting for the next few days leading up to see some more people out here. See how that goes.”

Davis, who is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, started on the back nine at Palos Verdes Golf Club and was 2 under through her first five holes. She hit 12 fairways, 10 greens and took 29 putts.

“Yeah, I missed like a few putts leading up, but as I got to the back nine my ball striking was kind of bad,” she said, “so I didn’t give myself very many chances.

“I kind of stayed strong and finished at even.”

Minjee Lee paces the field at 8 under with World No. 1 Jin Young Ko one back.

Davis has a busy summer lined up thanks to her big win at Augusta. She also has an invite to the Cognizant Founders Cup next month as well as the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles, Amundi Evian Masters and AIG Women’s British Open at Muirfield. Davis said she’ll fill in other events around the majors.

The high school sophomore wore her signature bucket hat Thursday at Palos Verdes, making her easy to spot.

“I’ll walk around and some of the girls will recognize me and they’ll say congrats,” said Davis. “That’s kind of funny.”

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Bucket hat brigade: Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Anna Davis gets special shoutout from PGA Tour winner Joel Dahmen

When you win at a place like Augusta National, you’re bound to make a few fans.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Anna Davis first rocked a bucket hat last July at the 2021 Girls Junior PGA Championship because it was hot and she was getting sunburnt (and her dad told her to).

Davis won the title by seven shots that week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, and the bucket hat has been her thing ever since. Before her final round at Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday, Davis’ family went to the shop while she was on the range and came back with a handful of bucket hats.

“I try to wear it at least once a tournament just to please everybody,” said Davis with a laugh in her victory press conference. “Every golf course I go to I try to collect them. I have a few now.”

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When you win at a place like Augusta National, you’re bound to make a few fans, even PGA Tour professionals. A fellow member of the “bucket hat brigade,” Joel Dahmen sent Davis a video message congratulating her on the win.

“Hi Anna, congratulations on winning at Augusta, that’s awesome,” said Dahmen. “I see you’re a huge part of the bucket hat brigade and I just wanted to tell you awesome job and wish you the best going forward. Hopefully we’ll see you down the road.”

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Sixteen-year-old Anna Davis wins 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur as the lone player under par

Making her first appearance at the ANWA, Davis became the second teenage winner following Tsubasa Kajitani in 2021.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrons returned in full-force on Saturday for the final round of the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and the players did not disappoint.

Playing in the third-to-last group, 16-year-old Anna Davis turned in the second lowest round of the day, a 3-under 69, to post a number at 1 under, two shots behind then-leader Latanna Stone. After Stone made a costly double-bogey on the par-4 17th thanks to a three putt, the two were tied for the lead with just the 18th remaining for Stone. The LSU junior had a putt to force a playoff that missed wide left, earning Davis the win.

Making her first appearance at the ANWA, Davis became the second teenage winner following Tsubasa Kajitani in 2021. Currently ranked second in the AJGA Rolex Rankings, Davis won the Girls Junior PGA Championship last July and was a member of the 2021 U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team.

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Five shots off the lead, Rachel Kuehn got off to a hot start with three straight birdies on Nos. 2, 3, and 4, as well was No. 7 to make the turn at 4 under on the day. With a chance to put up a number and apply pressure to the leaders, Kuehn made bogey on 18 to sign for a 69, ultimately finishing solo-seventh.

“I was very nervous. Definitely the most people I’ve played in front of. Got on the first tee, and I turned around and Annika Sorenstam sat there, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to hit the fairway.’ Didn’t hit the fairway,” said Kuehn with a laugh, “but it really is cool to see so many people out here supporting women’s golf. It’s just incredible. I think it’s a testament to what Augusta is doing here.”

Stone’s teammate Ingrid Lindblad, who finished T-3 at last year’s ANWA, shot the low round of the day, a 4-under 68 aided by a pair of eagles on the par-5 8th and 15th holes. The LSU junior finished T-2 alongside Stone at even par.

Playing in the final group alongside Stone, Beatrice Wallin finished with birdies on two of her final three holes to finish T-4 alongside Benedetta Moresco and Amari Avery. The Florida State senior is the only player to play in all three editions of the ANWA and finish inside the top 10 (T-7 in 2019 and T-10 in 2021).

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What’s the most challenging hole at Augusta National? Answers vary from ANWA competitors

Some of the answers may surprise you.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — After a long week down the road at Champions Retreat Golf Club, all 72 players in the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur field made the famous trip down Magnolia Lane on Friday to play a practice round at the famed course between the Georgia Pines.

For some it was a return to the picture-perfect gem that hosts the Masters every year. For others it was their first time. Sure, they’ve watched previous versions of the ANWA and Masters, but teeing it up is a whole new experience.

Last year we asked the professionals what they thought were the best holes and sneaky-hardest holes. This year, we asked the amateurs (and some answers may surprise you).

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‘Picture perfect’: ANWA players share Augusta National experiences following Friday practice round

The practice round at Augusta National is open to the entire field, creating new stories and experiences for all.

Whether practice or competition, a round at Augusta National is a round at Augusta National.

Many of the 30 remaining players in the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur field got their first taste of the course during Friday’s practice round. Before the scores count Saturday, it was a great opportunity to experience the nuances the legendary course has to offer.

For those who had no experience coming in, it’s easy to build preconceived notions about a course after seeing it on television for many years. Last year, for instance, some pointed out the broadcasts don’t necessarily do the rapid elevation changes any justice.

Augusta National is something that can only be experienced firsthand. Oftentimes, this is where switching to a local caddie comes in handy. University of Southern California’s Amari Avery used her coach on the bag at Champions Retreat Golf Club for the first two rounds, but opted for an Augusta National caddie for Friday and Saturday.

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“I’ve got a new caddie. I’ve got an Augusta caddie, local caddie,” she said. “I think it’s a smart decision. He knows everything about the course. (USC head coach Justin Silverstein) is obviously a very good caddie, but I need some more experience.”

It was a veteran move, as Avery is in her second ANWA start. Although she made an appearance here in 2021, it doesn’t mean she isn’t still learning about the course.

“I played last year in the practice round, so I kind of knew what to expect, but I mean, every time, I think every time anyone comes here, there’s always something that throws them off,” she said. “Larry, my caddie, will just tell me some things about the greens, and I’m like, ‘I’m not seeing that.’ But I hit the shot where he tells me, and he’s definitely right.”

Not all the memories are great. Stanford’s Rose Zhang was asked about her triple-bogey on the par-5 No. 13 in 2021, pushing her off the top of the leaderboard late in the third round. A year removed, she remains positive about her experiences at Augusta.

“I feel like I have good memories regardless of that triple,” she said.

Zhang went on to excel as a freshman for the Cardinal, winning her first three events last fall, and remains the top-ranked amateur in the world.

2022 Augusta National Women's Amateur
Rose Zhang of the United States plays her stroke from the No. 13 tee during a practice round for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Augusta National Golf Club, Friday, April 1, 2022. (Photo: Augusta National Women’s Amateur)

For LSU’s Latanna Stone, Friday was her first experience at Augusta National. While taking time to learn the course, she spent much of her round soaking in the moment, stopping for a photo on one of the most-storied holes in the game.

“Oh, I really like 12 because we got to take a photo over there,” she said. “It was really cool walking up the bridge. It was just so beautiful right then and there. Picture perfect.”

History fills every nook and cranny of this golf course. While many appreciate the great shots and moments in Masters Tournament history, something that’s become evident throughout this event is that rather than taking too much time to dwell on the immense history, this generation’s talent is looking to use that time to make its own mark.

“There’s a few shots I remember, like Bubba Watson, I think he hit the snap hook or something. Dustin Johnson one year did something like that. Of course a lot of Tiger’s highlights I remember,” University of Kentucky’s Jensen Castle said. “But I don’t really remember those when I’m playing myself, like, oh, that’s where he was standing or something like that.”

And that’s more than enough. While the history is there and should be revered, Castle and her peers are also cognizant of another generation of little girls watching the ANWA.

“I hope they know that they too can do this as well,” she said. “It is a dream for everyone, but if they work hard enough, like they can achieve this as well.”

With millions of those little girls watching, Saturday’s third round begins with the first pairings teeing off at 8 a.m. ET.

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Paula Schulz-Hanssen celebrates 19th birthday with playoff win to make Augusta National Women’s Amateur cut; Two players tied for lead

There’s never a dull moment at the ANWA.

EVANS, Ga. — With 72 of the best women’s amateur golfers in the field it was no surprise that 36 holes weren’t enough to determine the top-30 players to make the cut at the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Following a 7.5-hour weather delay on Thursday, second-round action rolled over to Friday morning at Champions Retreat Golf Club, host of the first two rounds of play, and featured a 4-for-1 playoff for the last spot in Saturday’s final round. After making par on Nos. 10, 11, and 17 on the first three playoff holes, Paula Schulz-Hanssen emerged victorious with a fourth par on No. 18, dispatching Virginia’s Amanda Sambach, who made bogey. Arizona State senior Alexandra Forsterling was eliminated with a bogey on No. 11, with Vanderbilt senior Auston Kim doing the same on the 17th.

As if qualifying for the final round at Augusta National Golf Club wasn’t good enough, Schulz-Hanssen did so on her 19th birthday.

“I was so nervous, but I just tried to not think too much about it, and Charles, my caddie, and I was just like, ‘Just trust your game. Just do your own thing,’” explained Schulz-Hanssen, who missed the cut at last year’s ANWA. “Yeah, I didn’t make any big mistakes. So I think that was the key.”

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Florida State senior Beatrice Wallin – the lone player to shoot under par in the second round – and LSU junior Latanna Stone are tied atop the leaderboard at even par entering the final round.

Wallin is no stranger to the weekend at Augusta National after finishes of T-7 in 2019 and T-10 in 2021. Knowing it’s her last time at the event, the 22-year-old from Sweden is just soaking it all in one last time.

“So I’m just going to go out there with a big smile and see, whatever happens, happens,” said Wallin.

Stone has some Augusta National experience as well, having been a national finalist at the 2014 Drive, Chip & Putt.

“I’m really pumped to play Augusta. I’ve never played it before, so it’s going to be a real treat,” said Stone. “I’ve just been trying to keep it simple – fairways, greens, two-putt, and kind of get off. I’m not trying to do anything special. I know there’s not a lot of birdies out there, and I’m just trying to stay patient.”

The Riverview, Florida, native remembers watching Bubba Watson’s famous shot from the Woods at the 2012 Masters and even had the chance to go in the PING vault and see his wedge. Would she try to recreate that shot during Friday afternoon’s practice round?

“I don’t know about that,” she said with a smile. “I’m just going to try to hit the fairway.”

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Despite potential fracture in her toe, top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang battles to make Augusta National Women’s Amateur cut

“I really had to grind through every single golf shot that I hit on this golf course.”

It’s rare when Rose Zhang isn’t at the top of the leaderboard.

After all, the two-time USGA champion is currently the world’s No. 1 women’s amateur, won her first three starts, and hasn’t finished worse than T-10 in seven appearances for the top-ranked Cardinal. But the Irvine, California native self-admittedly didn’t have her A-game or B-game this week at the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

She can thank a freak incident to her toe for that.

“In December a person dropped a dumbbell on my foot in the gym, so that was not intended, and it didn’t heal until like recently,” explained Zhang after finishing her second round on Friday at Champions Retreat Golf Club. “So I just haven’t been practicing much. Then it’s just like the normal stress of college and the adjustment of lifestyle. So it was a little bit of everything. So I really just didn’t have much time to practice and just not being able to have those fundamentals that I usually try to have, it was definitely hard on this course.”

“I think it might be a little fractured. I actually don’t know,” Zhang said of the injury to her left pinkie toe that is starting to “feel a lot better.”

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Sitting outside the cut entering Friday’s continuation of the second round following a 7.5-hour weather delay Thursday, Zhang made birdie on her final three holes to sign for a 1-under 72, good enough for T-9 on the leaderboard before Saturday’s final round.

“I really had to grind through every single golf shot that I hit on this golf course,” explained Zhang. “Just being able to come from below the cut line to being in the cut line, I think that it really showed that I have the grit and I have the perseverance to just being able to execute regardless of where I am. So I think that really proved a lot to me.”

Zhang will have her father as her caddie for Friday afternoon’s practice round and Saturday morning’s final round at Augusta National Golf Club. The two also worked together when Zhang won the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“It will be so cool,” she said of the shared experience at Augusta National. “It will be my first time having him on the bag here, so I think it’s a memory that will last a lifetime. But I think we’re just going to sink in and try to have the best time we can on Augusta National.”

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Weather delay rocks second round of Augusta National Women’s Amateur, altering Friday’s schedule at Augusta National Golf Club

A 7.5 hour weather delay shook up the schedule this week in Augusta.

EVANS, Ga. — As if the Augusta National Women’s Amateur wasn’t challenging enough as is, inclement weather has made the third playing of one of the biggest events in women’s golf even more difficult.

Before players could begin their second round at 7:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning at Champions Retreat Golf Club, inclement weather forced a seven-and-a-half hour delay, creating questions about Friday’s practice round down the road at Augusta National Golf Club. But the sun came out in the afternoon, and play resumed at 3 p.m. ET, setting up a race against the sunset.

Nine players were able to finish their second rounds when play was suspended at 7:52 p.m. ET. The last groups will need to finish nine holes when play resumes Friday morning at Champions Retreat at 7:30 a.m. ET.

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Five players were under par following the first round, but none were in the red when the horn sounded Thursday night. ANWA three-timer Beatrice Wallin – who has her brother on the bag – USC freshman phenom Amari Avery and Michigan’s Hailey Borja are all tied atop the leaderboard at even par. Borja was the lone player under par before making bogey on No. 11, her final hole of the day.

The top-30 players will advance to Saturday’s final round at Augusta National, and a playoff will take place if necessary following the second round. The players will then make their way to Augusta National for an afternoon practice round, with the time yet to be determined.

As it stands, 11 players are battling for five spots in the top 30, with 20 players just four shots outside the current projected cut of 5 over.

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Virginia Tech’s Emily Mahar reunites with Australian family after two-plus years at Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Family reunions are fun, especially when they take place in Augusta.

EVANS, Ga. — Unlike most of the field, Emily Mahar didn’t know she’d be competing in this week’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur until about a week ago.

The Virginia Tech senior was getting ready with her team for their practice round before the recent Clemson Invitational when her phone started to ring. It was one of the ANWA directors.

“He was like, ‘Yeah, we have a spot. Do you want to play?’ I think (head coach Carol Robertson) kind of knew,” said Mahar after her practice round earlier this week at Champions Retreat Golf Club, host of the first two rounds of play. “She hadn’t told me officially, but she was like, ‘There are alternate spots. Maybe you have one of them.’ I looked at her, and she looked at me, and I shook my head. Everyone kind of knew. It was really cool to share that moment with the team.”

Fast forward to Wednesday’s first round, where she got to share the real thing with her family. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the native of Brisbane, Australia, hadn’t seen her family in two and a half years. The 14-hour time difference made it difficult for her to break the big news, but as soon as her family got the call they booked plane tickets.

Social media and FaceTime have been helpful for the Mahar’s to stay in touch, but nothing beats a face-to-face reunion, let alone before the first round of one of the biggest women’s golf events in the world. For the Mahar’s, that dream reunion became a reality. Not only that, they were able to watch Emily shoot a respectable 4-over 76 in windy conditions to finish the day T-39, just outside the top-30 cut for Saturday’s final round down the road at Augusta National Golf Club.

“We’ve all been golf fans, so we know a lot about the Masters and Augusta and now to share that moment with them is super special,” said Mahar.

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With their siblings on the bag, Augusta National Women’s Amateur players share unique moments that will live on for a lifetime

Four players in the ANWA field have their siblings as caddies this week.

EVANS, Ga. — Augusta National Women’s Amateur competitors have to make some tough decisions for tournament week. Outside of who gets to make the trip down Magnolia Lane for Friday’s lauded practice round at Augusta National Golf Club, the next biggest choice is who will caddie.

For Michigan’s Ashley Lau, Oregon State’s Ellie Slama, Stanford’s Caroline Sturdza and Florida State’s Beatrice Wallin, the decision was simple: they kept it in the family. All four players have a sibling on the bag this week, creating moments that neither player nor caddie will soon forget.

“It was super fun having my brother out there. We worked really well together today,” said Slama, who currently sits just outside the cut at T-32 after Wednesday’s first round. “I think just going forward, it’s fun to have family members, people you know, familiar faces out there. It makes it a little bit more calm and easy, and there’s a little less pressure going into it.”

“It’s really special. This is her third time here this year, my first time caddying,” said her brother, Tim, who has been on the bag for her for USGA events and other tournaments in the past. “But this one’s extra special, especially with the likelihood that this is her last year, and it’s an honor to be here.”

After watching from outside the ropes the last two years, Tim said it’s easier to be on the bag than outside the ropes because he has a little control.

“It’s kind of like riding in the car versus driving. Like, I’m not driving the car, but I’m doing navigation,” he explained. “So it’s a little bit easier inside the ropes in terms of the stress levels.”

Not to mention the familiarity siblings share with one another. Whether it’s the chit-chat between shots or the ability to be more direct without hurting feelings, having someone on the bag who knows them better than anyone else is like a 15th club.

“I would say she just knows when to talk and when to not talk and when to leave me alone,” said Lau with a chuckle about her sister, Adeline, who also plays college golf at Eastern Michigan. “It’s better if I tell her directly. I wouldn’t hurt her feelings by staying that, but to a stranger I might. She just knows when to step away and then leave me alone for a little bit which is nice.”

“I know her very well, so I know how to deal with her,” echoed Max Sturdza, who has the bag for his sister, Caroline. “I think it makes a big difference from someone who’s just a random caddie or something like that.

“It’s a big experience for both of us,” continued Max, who also plays college golf at Florida Atlantic. “I think we can learn a lot from all this. It’s so much fun to be out here with her and just enjoy the tournament.”

Beatrice Wallin and caddie Rickard Wallin walk the fourth hole during the first round of the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Champions Retreat Golf Club.

Things are different for Wallin and her brother, Rickard, who has been on the bag for each of her two previous ANWA appearances that resulted in a pair of made cuts and top-10 finishes (T-7 in 2019 and T-10 in 2021).

“It’s so nice because I can be the boss and be like, ‘Do you really think so? I don’t know,’ and then I make the decision,” Beatrice said of their relationship. “He’s always so supportive with all my decisions, and he did a great job today.”

A few of Rickard’s thoughts even led to key birdies for Beatrice, who sits T-9 at 1 over after the first round. Does that mean he’ll get to make more decisions going forward and take more control? Not quite.

“No, no, no,” Beatrice responded with a smile. “I’m still the boss.”

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