Defending champion Kayla Holden
The Sea Island Women’s Amateur will be staged on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with some of the top non-professional players visiting the Georgia coast to compete in this late-summer showcase.
The 54-hole tournament, in just its third year, will take place on the Seaside Course at the Sea Island Golf Club Tuesday through Thursday with a star-studded field ready to vie for the trophy.
“Each year, the field continues to grow, not only in the number of applicants who want to play but also the strength of the field,” said Johann Emanuel, co-head professional for Sea Island. “We are excited to have a top mix of juniors, collegiate, and mid-amateurs in the field.”
One of the players in the field will be defending champion Kayla Holden, a senior at the University of Tennessee, this coming season. Holden won last year’s tournament by two shots with a 2-under-par 208 score. She was two shots off the lead going into the final round when she shot even-par 70, including a birdie on the demanding par-4 finishing hole.
Laney Frye, ranked among the top 60 in world amateur rankings, will also be back. Frye, a senior-to-be at the University of Kentucky, has finished second at Sea Island the last two summers.
She was also the stroke-play co-medalist at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur and was named to her second All-America team this past season as a junior for the Wildcats. She will play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur for a third straight year in early August.
Also set to play at Sea Island are college standouts Boyhun Park, a rising junior and returning All-American at Texas, and Bentley Cotton, another Texas player who was an All-Big 12 Team pick this past season as a junior.
Noteworthy mid-amateurs in the Sea Island tournament are Jackie Rogowicz, a former Penn State player who won her second Pennsylvania Golf Association Women’s Am last summer, and Blakesly Brock, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur winner.
From the junior ranks, notable players include Kati Li and Elizabeth Rudisill. Li is set to play at Duke this fall as a freshman. She is a five-time American Junior Golf Association All-American. Rudisill will start her junior year in high school in the fall and is currently ranked among the top-15 nationally by the AJGA. This past season, she also won an individual state championship for her North Carolina high school with a new record score.
“The Sea Island Women’s Amateur has quickly become one of the premier events in women’s amateur golf,” Emaneul said. “With the tournament open to all ages, we really get to see the best juniors, collegiate and mid-ams show off their games.”
As the tournament looks to build on its early success, Sea Island plans to move the event out of this late-July slot where it has been to a time in late May that will put it at the start of the summer competition schedule.
“To prevent our event from overlapping other established events, we moved our dates to the end of May. We feel that this date change will enable players to start their summer season off with some great competition,” Emanuel noted.
Sea Island’s hope is to attract an even deeper field as it eventually would like to see its Women’s Amateur champion earn an automatic invite to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, played each spring leading into the Masters tournament in early April.
This coming week, the Seaside Course -- designed by Tom Fazio -- will play roughly 6,110 yards. The par-70 course features only two par-5s and presents plenty of challenges, especially on a windy day in coastal Georgia.
“Seaside has very generous fairways that wind their way through the natural marsh habitat of Coastal Georgia, but with sand dunes, large bunkers, small greens and swirling winds, trouble is always lurking. Players will need to keep their ball in play should they wish to hoist the (champion’s) trophy at the end of the week,” Emanuel said.
In addition to a challenging course, the players also will have to battle the stifling heat and humidity that is common this time of year in Georgia. Temperatures figure to be in the low- to mid-90s, but going by the heat index, it could feel like its 100 degrees or more.
Thus, the heat may test the players’ mental and physical fortitude as much as a slick downhill putt or a demanding tee shot over a coastal marsh.
When asked about playing in excessive heat a few years back, professional player Hannah Green quipped: “I just need to find the shade as much as possible, but not with my tee shot.”
It sounds like something the Women’s Am field might like to consider.
ABOUT THE Sea Island Women's Amateur
Patterned after the highly successful Jones Cup
Invitational tournaments at Sea Island and Ocean
Forest Golf Club, which began in 2001, the Women’s
Amateur follows the Jones Cup tradition
of drawing the nation’s best female golfers to the
world-class setting of Sea Island. The format is 54
holes of stroke play with a field limit of 84 players.
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