Olivia Mehaffey is guaranteed two rounds of golf on Augusta National’s hallowed turf after cruising through to the final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Masters in Georgia.
Although every player was guaranteed a practice round on Friday, only the top-30 and ties qualified for the final round of the 54-hole tournament on Saturday and Mehaffey ensured she was one of them with a composed even-par 72 on day two.
The Banbridge star and current world amateur number 20 finds herself in a share of 11th spot after the first 36-holes of the Championship were completed at the Champions Retreat Golf Club on Thursday.
Now the Arizona State star can look forward to her first taste of Augusta National with her tournament hopes still very much alive despite trailing Jennifer Kupcho by six heading into Saturday’s decider.
“I knew my ranking was good enough to qualify for the event but there is always something in the back of your head until you get the invite – like maybe this is too good to be true,” said Mehaffey prior to the event.
“I still sort of feel that way. When I think about the Masters I always think about Tiger and some of the crazy shots he pulled off – like that chip down the slope on 16. But I can’t wait to get there. I’m probably most looking forward to playing 15 but the whole experience is something new and it’s very exciting for women’s golf.
”Today, Mehaffey will get her chance to recreate some of the shots she grew up watching on television from afar as one of 72 women set to make history on the site of the Masters one week ahead of the men’s first major of the year. Enjoy every minute of it Olivia.
With only the top-30 players advancing to the final round at Augusta National on Saturday, there was late drama in store for patrons and players as with eleven players tied for 21st place at three over par, so there had to be a playoff.
In the playoff, nine players successfully bagged their pars on the 10th and advanced, leaving two players, Ainhoa Olarra (Spain) and Alessia Nobilo (Italy) to fight for the final place, which went to Olarra as she birdied the par-3 17th.
At the head of proceedings, World number one Jennifer Kupcho kept her position at the top of the leaderboard, and carries a one shot lead over Maria Fassi, heading to the final round.
Kupcho started from the 10th tee and negotiated the tougher Bluff Nine at Champions Retreat in two under par with birdies on the par-3 11th and 17th holes. She picked up another stroke on the par-4 first, but she missed a short birdie putt on her 11th hole, the second of the Island Nine, and struggled with her swing after that.
“I started out strong and was hitting the ball really well,” said Kupcho. “After the bogey on the fifth, I was just trying to get through six, honestly – and then the seventh, eighth and ninth were all birdie holes. Obviously, I didn’t make any, and I didn’t really give myself an opportunity. “Hopefully, I can go out and figure out what was going on with my swing.”
For the winner:
Provided the winner remains amateur, she will earn exemptions into the next five Augusta National Women’s Amateurs while also receiving invites to the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open, 2019 Women’s British Open and any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur championships for which she is eligible for one year. Some would say that given Augusta’s dark past, this bright new venture is a winner for everyone involved.
Full Scoring HERE