Saki Baba at the 2022 U.S. Women's Amateur (USGA)
With the event’s strongest field to date, the fourth edition of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur is brewing up as much interest as ever. Between multiple-time returnees, new faces and of course, the venue itself, the lore of ANWA is getting richer by the year.
But the intrigue doesn’t exclusively belong to past champs: Breakout seasons, generational players, and unique stars who will compete in the crown jewel of women’s amateur golf. Curious about these stories? Read on to discover the players who lead this year’s pack.
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Seldom do we get the Japanese phenom on this side of the ocean, but when we do, she surely knows how to obliterate a field – making her first ANWA appearance one to keep a close eye on. Baba ran roughshod through the match play portion of last year's U.S. Women’s Amateur
at Chambers Bay, culminating with an 11 and 9 trouncing of Monet Chun in the championship match. She’s since kept the competitive juices flowing outside of the United States, where she placed second at the Australian Women’s Amateur, sixth at the Asia-Pacific Women’s Amateur, and made the cut at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Find a better underdog story than Jess Baker, whose college career leading up to her win at the Women’s British Amateur
had somewhat of a tough go: With just two top-10s in 15 starts and ranked 518th in WAGR, Baker wanted to quit the sports months before. But the UCF Knight slayed a tough draw on her home soil that featured Hannah Darling, Emilie Paltrinieri, and Louise Rydqvist. In the 36-hole final against Rydqvist, Baker held off a few last-minute charges before winning 4&3.
Castle has been relatively quiet since winning the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur
, however, the Kentucky Wildcat is trending well heading into ANWA. She has six top-10 finishes in ten events this season, including a win at the Ruth's Chris Tar Heel Invitational
in October. Castle is no stranger to flying below the radar. When she won the U.S. Women's Amateur two years ago, she survived a 12-for-2 playoff just to reach match play and then became the first No. 63 seed to hoist the Robert Cox Trophy.
Clemente’s past year has been historical on every single level of golf. The U.S. Girls Junior runner-up went on a heater in the fall when she became the second player ever to Monday qualify for three LPGA events in a row
. She then parlayed that success into winning two of the most prestigious events in amateur golf: The PING Invitational
(by seven shots) and the SALLY
It would be wrong not to mention the defending champion
, whose victories didn’t end at the ANWA. Seven pro starts were awarded to Anna Davis, including three majors – and opening up her 2023 with a win at the Junior Orange Bowl International shows she’s still in incredible form. Surviving a tough first two rounds at Champions Retreat allowed the lefty to thrive at Augusta National, with her finesse around the greens allowing the unofficial official queen of bucket hats to emerge victorious.
You might be wondering why an assistant coach is in this year’s ANWA field, but Kendall Griffin’s new job hasn’t kept her away from competing on her own time. The former LSU and Louisville standout is now second-in-command at Indiana University, but has made cameos in the Florida Women’s Amateur, the North & South, and the Orlando International Amateur.
You may have seen her as part of Ole Miss’s 2021 National Championship
squad, but you’ve also heard her as part of Golf Channel’s broadcasting crew in various amateur and collegiate events. Julia Johnson’s gift for on-course commentary is just as good as her golf, having ended her career at Ole Miss with 27 top-10 finishes and either tied or in sole possession of every possible individual record in the school's record book.
She's back!!! Kajitani captured the 2021 ANWA title in a playoff
over Emilia Migliaccio to become the first Japanese, male or female, to win at the world’s most famous golf course. A week later, Hideki Matsuyama became the second. Kajitani wasn't around to defend her title last year but since her historic win at Augusta two years ago, the now 19-year-old has represented her country on the biggest amateur and professional stages in the United States, Europe and Japan. In 2021, she made the cut in the Amundi Evian Championship in France and the Japan Women's Open.
Hot off of her sixth collegiate victory at the Augusta Women's Invitational, Rachel Kuehn remains one of the household names in women's amateur golf. She doubled down on Curtis Cup history when she clinched the winning point once again in 2022, another nod to her mother who did the very same thing in 1998. Now, Kuehn’s carved out an incredible path of her own. A top-10 finish at ANWA last year will surely fuel her confidence in an attempt to add a crown jewel to her growing resume. She is one of three Wake Forest players in the field along with Emilia Migliaccio
and Carolina Chacarra
Lindblad has 10 collegiate wins in her stellar LSU career and hasn't finished worse than third in her two previous ANWA starts. She thrives on the big stage, as evidenced by her performance at last year's U.S. Women's Open
, where she was tied for fourth entering the final round before ultimately finishing in a tie for 11th place. She's the second-ranked female amateur in the world behind Zhang and is one of the prohibitive favorites heading to Augusta.
Speaking of ANWA heartbreak, Stone’s final round lead met a similar fate on the back nine in 2022. She held a two-shot lead after making a birdie on the par-3 16th, however, a double-bogey on 17 followed by a bogey on the last gave Anna Davis the title. “I can’t change anything about it; I gotta hold my head up and move on,” Stone told Golf Channel. Her resilience manifested in the form of a Curtis Cup victory and her first collegiate victory in February at the Nexus Collegiate
If there’s a grand slam in women’s amateur golf, Zhang is certainly in line to complete it. A U.S. Junior Girls champion
, U.S. Women’s Amateur
, NCAA individual champion
…the only trophy missing from her case is ANWA. The No. 1-ranked female amateur -- who just broke Lydia Ko's record for the most consecutive weeks at the top -- entered the final round in 2001 tied for the lead before a triple bogey at Amen Corner wrecked her chances. She tied for 12th last year. Could this be her year? Her play remains as consistent as ever, having already won five of her six starts in her sophomore year at Stanford.
ABOUT THE Augusta National Women’s Amateur
54-hole stroke-play tournament that will include a
72 player international field. The field will include
winners of other recognized tournaments while also
utilizing the Women's World Amateur Golf Rankings.
The first two rounds will be played at
Retreat Golf Club before the field is cut to the low 30
and ties for the final round at Augusta National.
The tournament will be played the week before
Masters, concluding on Saturday.
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