At the Augusta National Women's Amateur, the cut matters
The chance to play Augusta National under pressure makes the ANWA cut meaningful. (Thomas Lovelock)
The chance to play Augusta National under pressure makes the ANWA cut meaningful. (Thomas Lovelock)

In competitive golf, a cut always means something. It can represent an opportunity to simply play more golf, it can mean the chance to win a tournament, it can boost a player’s confidence if they make a cut without their best stuff.

Cuts matter in golf.

Over the last year, the cut has been debated as men’s professional golf navigates its new frontier of LIV events and signature events that have no cut at all.

But cuts matter.

You need to look no further than the Augusta Women’s Amateur to understand how much a cut can mean.

Some have said that the entire tournament should be held at Augusta National. It’s a fair argument, but for now, the event is what it is, and it creates so much drama on Thursday as the cut line looms.

Anna Davis, the 2022 ANWA champion, missed the cut on Thursday because of a slow play penalty on the 17th hole. She refused to speak to the media about it afterwards, and according to reports from the ground, tears were shed.

Anna Davis wins 2022 Augusta National Women's Amateur


That’s easy to understand. Davis has accrued five penalty shots in the last two ANWAs. The first four came on the opening hole of the 2023 tournament when she thought lift, clean, and place was being played throughout the course. She made a nine on the first hole after two 2-stroke penalties. She missed the cut by a shot.

Amanda Sambach has also experienced ANWA’s cut in a demoralizing fashion. In 2021, the field was cut to only 30 players for the final round at Augusta National, which meant that ties would need to be broken. The University of Virginia player was on the losing side of that playoff.

“It was heartbreaking to be that close and then have it taken away," she said.

Playing a competitive round at Augusta National means something to Sambach.

“I'm on the verge of tears every time. This year and last year, just making it and being able to play the final day. It means a lot.”

It means a lot.

Thankfully, ANWA now includes the top 30 and ties into the final round. No playoff is needed; there's enough drama already.

As the wind blew on Thursday, scores jumped around.

Megha Ganne couldn’t believe the up-and-down nature of Thursday’s round.

“It's like you make one birdie and you're like, ‘Oh, my God, I'm almost in the lead,’ and you make one bogey and you're like, ‘I might miss the cut.’ So it was so volatile the whole way through. We know how intense this day is, so it was just crazy.”

We know how intense this day is… it’s hard to argue with Ganne.

The Stanford standout made the cut after rounds of 70 and 74.

Carla Bernat Escuder posted the round of the day, a stunning 3-under 69, the only score under 70. It’s Escuder’s first time playing ANWA, she found out she was in the field two and a half weeks ago. She doesn’t like to look at the scoreboard, she gets too excited and starts to move too quickly, but on the 18th hole, her coach couldn’t help but inform her of where she stood.

She was right on the cut line.

“My coach on the last hole was like, I think you're the lowest score, and you might be inside of the cut,” she said.

She finished the job. Shooting 78-69 is one way to make the cut at ANWA. She is coming off a win at the Liz Murphey Collegiate. 

Liz Murphey Collegiate: Auburn successfully defends its title

At ANWA, making the cut also means gaining valuable experience.

All Gianna Clemente wanted to do last year as the youngest in the field was make the cut and get the experience of teeing it up with some pressure at Augusta National.

“I said from the very beginning last year that my goal was just to make the cut. I wanted to play Augusta National under competition so badly. It didn't really - I'm not going to say it didn't matter where I was - but I just wanted to play it under competition.”

She accomplished that goal in 2023 and recorded a T14 finish, including a 76 at Augusta National in rainy conditions.

“I feel like coming into this week I wanted a little bit more than that. Obviously, to make the cut and play it in competition again, but I think maybe just being in one of the leading groups and having the bigger crowds and the more pressure. I think I wanted a little bit more out of this week.”

Now, she’ll be in the final group in the ANWA, one year removed from being the youngest player in the field.

This year’s starlet, 15-year-old Asterisk Talley, recently won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Like Clemente last year, she made the cut. It took a clutch par putt on the final hole to do it. She spoke about the roller coaster round and the thoughts racing around her head on the final hole.

Junior Invitational at Sage Valley: Binaghi, Talley win in starkly different ways

“After I made bogey on eight, it was like, it's over, because I was 3-over -- yeah, 3 going into the last hole, and I was just like, that's not going to make it. I have to make birdie. Then I missed the green. So I was like, um, chip it in or you're out, and then I didn't chip it out, so I was like, you have to make this five-footer to even have a chance, and it was like shaky knees on the last hole, like what do I do. But I was just like, calm down, if you miss, you miss, and that's what happens.”

Asterisk means “Little Star” in Greek. She might outperform her name in the coming years with her talent.

The tournament’s leader, Lottie Woad, had a similar experience to Talley in 2023. She needed a five-foot putt to make the cut. She nailed it and then shot a 72 to finish in 13th place.

The Florida State sophomore from Farnham, England has lived in the shadow of Rose Zhang and Ingrid Lindblad over the last few years. She’s a legit talent, though. She won the 2022 R&A Girls' Amateur and has represented her country in the Palmer Cup and the Women’s World Amateur Championship. She also has top-five finishes in the European Ladies' Amateur, Portuguese Women's Amateur, and Welsh Ladies' Open Stroke Play. In her first year in Tallahassee, she earned a First Team All-American selection.

Lindblad is currently ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Women's Rankings.

She doesn’t have a classically great swing, but it does the trick.

“I've had the same coach since I started golf. I think they just see me hit a shot, and they're like, oh, that went straight, so they just leave it,” Woad.

That ball flight and some experience in the wind helped Woad shoot a 71 on Thursday and hold a two-shot lead.

She’s also a grinder, spending five or six hours at the Seminoles practice facility after classes finish at 11:30. She’s been working hard on her pitching and putting.

That will come in handy on Saturday under a bit of pressure. A pressure she’ll understand after making the cut last year.

The entire field is brimming with golf talent; it’s a staggering collection of amateurs. Now, 35 will arrive on Friday at Augusta National having made the cut. They'll use Friday’s practice round as just that, a way to get ready for the big show on Saturday.

Because the cut matters at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

ABOUT THE Augusta National Women's Amateur (ANWA)

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 Champions 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 the Masters, concluding on Saturday.

View Complete Tournament Information

Latest in 

Amateurgolf.com, Inc.
6965 El Camino Real 105-631
Carlsbad, CA 92009

Instagram X Facebook YouTube