Sobel: 4 Players to Know at the First Ever Augusta National Women’s Amateur
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
- Augusta National will host its first ever women's event this week with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
- Jason Sobel runs through four players you need to know as the event gets underway.
History is being made at Augusta National this week.
For the first time ever, an elite-level women’s tournament is taking place on the site of the Masters, as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur busts down yet another barrier in the slowly evolving world of golf.
It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved. For the folks in green jackets, long-criticized for not having any female members prior to 2012, who can bask in the praise for green-lighting such a progressive effort. For the players, many of whom might never have had the opportunity to step foot on these hallowed grounds, who will now play in a competitive event here.
And for the fans, of course. Not only are we offered a glimpse into next week, seeing how the course reacts to specific shots, but a glimpse into the future, as the women competing in this tournament could very well become the next superstars at the game’s highest level.
I highly recommend parking yourself on the couch with a bright-eyed daughter or niece — particularly on Saturday afternoon, when the tournament will be broadcast on NBC — enjoying all of the best aspects of this event, letting your minds wander to what other progressions might exist in the not-too-distant future.
But of course, if you’re watching — and especially if you’re reading this — you might not be wholly satisfied by simply watching the festivities.
You might need a little action on it.
I haven’t found any books which have actionable odds on the ANWA, so any wagering will need to be side-action with a friend — or even that daughter or niece, if you’re so desperate for an extra buck or two.
Like any bets, if you’re inclined to make these, you’ll need to be smart about your selections. I’ve identified five players who — against all odds (literally) — should own a strong chance to claim the first title at this newly prestigious tournament.
If the books listed odds for this tournament, there’s a good chance Kupcho would be the favorite. The No. 1-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), she lost in heartbreaking fashion at the 2017 NCAA Championship, only to storm back and win the individual title last year. Still only a junior at Wake Forest, Kupcho already owns eight school records and has won eight WAGR-sanctioned events in the last two years.
Last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up has since transferred from junior college (where she was individual medalist at the season-ending championship) to Alabama (where she won in record-breaking fashion in just her second start). In fact, Jeon has been slaying records in a hurry, already taking ownership of the school’s 36- and 54-hole scoring records. As high as third in the WAGR just a few months ago, she currently ranks a formidable sixth.
Ranked “only” 20th in the WAGR, Mehaffey has been moving up that list, thanks in large part to a recent individual victory at the Bruin Wave Invitational, where the Arizona State junior helped lead her squad to a third-place finish. In addition to her many accolades from last year, she finished third in medal play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. And just in case you’re looking to place a parlay on two upcoming winners at Augusta, she hails from Northern Ireland, just like a certain Masters favorite.
Along with Stanford teammate Albane Valenzuela (who isn’t competing in the ANWA), Lee helps form one of the toughest 1-2 punches in all of college golf. With her eighth career victory last week, she tied the school’s all-time record — and she’s still only in her junior year. A prodigy as a youngster, Lee was a four-time, first-team Rolex Junior All-America selection, winning 50 total events during that time. She now ranks third in the WAGR.