Olivia Mehaffey carded a final round three-over par 75 to finish in ninth place as Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan captured the second annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur in a playoff on Saturday.
Mehaffey had come through to lead on the final day, moving to two-under for the tournament with birdies at 7 and 8. A three-putt bogey on 9 halted momentum and she also bogeyed the tenth before finding water on the infamous par-3 12th. Mehaffey also bogeyed her final hole to finish at the three-over par and just two shots behind the playoff number of plus-one.
“It was a bad number,” Mehaffey reflected of the tee-shot on 12 at Golden Bell where the hopes of so many often take a swim on Masters week.
“I was really in between two clubs and I just tried to hit it hard and I probably didn’t even need to and then I hit it fat. But once I was in the situation, I was kind of thinking, giving myself a chance at a bogey and get out. I think seeing what Tiger did last year was a little bit scary, and the hole is very intimidating, even that short wedge shot is difficult. I was trying to get out.”
Even after her 9-iron found a watery grave, the world number 18 was still full of hope:
“Yeah, of course, even after that, I was thinking okay, I can get some birdies,” Mehaffey said.
“Nobody was running away with it. I think it’s been pretty tight the whole day. So that was — you know, I was still thinking, try and get some birdies and I thought I hit a really nice shot into 13 and I would love to watch it back; a few feet away from being pretty good. But yeah, I still felt like I was still in it.”
In the end it was 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani who shot an even-par 72 and defeated Emilia Migliaccio on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the title. She put on the finishing touches with a spectacular two-putt on the 18th green and gave a mini fistpump before exchanging hugs with her caddie and Migliaccio. It was then that she immediately felt the emotion of her accomplishment. Kajitani shot 73-72-72 for a one-over-par 217 total and became the first player from Japan to win at Augusta National.
“I can’t really imagine [the reception I will receive] when I’m back to Japan,” Kajitani said. “But hopefully everybody is happy and will enjoy, and I’m looking forward to going back to Japan.”
Six players – Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, Rachel Heck, Emma Spitz, Karen Fredgaard and second-round co-leaders Ingrid Lindblad and Rose Zhang – tied for third place, one stroke behind Kajitani and Migliaccio with Mehaffey alone in ninth.
Kajitani, ranked No. 26 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), entered the final round tied for fifth place.
“To be honest, when I came to the States, I didn’t expect that I’m going to win the tournament,” Kajitani said. “And then day-by-day I have been confident and then I won the tournament.”
Full scoring HERE