Thirty female amateurs will survive Palmer and Nicklaus designs at Champions Retreat to make history at Augusta National.
After a topsy-turvy first quarter of 2019, things will get further jammed-up as before the first majors of the year begin. Seventy-two female “pros-in-waiting” will compete at Champions Retreat for the chance to become the first of their kind to play all eighteen holes for score of Augusta National Golf Club.
An extension of the Drive, Chip, and Putt that started in 2014, only two past college- Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra (10th in the inaccurate World Amateur Golf Ranking) and New Jersey’s Alice Chen (failed to reach Q-Series)- will take part in this fifty-four-hole special attraction.
The schedule is unique due to the timing of starting before the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration, meaning there will be two scheduled practice rounds – Tuesday at the Retreat and Friday at the National.
Furthermore, for at least some top student-athletes, this event comes less than a month before NCAA selections. WAGR #1 and last year’s NCAA individual medalist Jennifer Kupcho considered skipping the ANWA and ANA prior to schedule changes.
Unfortunately, Lucy Li, the center of a recent USGA investigation over her appearance in an Apple Watch ad, withdrew due to injury. Li, who also withdrew from last November’s AJGA Tournament of Champions due to injury, will be replaced by Kaylee Benton.
There are potential perks as well on for the victor: most notably, conditional exemptions to the US Women’s Open and AIG Women’s British Open. Next year’s Curtis Cup captains Elaine Ratcliffe and Sarah LeBrun Ingram will be keeping close tabs.
Let’s continue our preview with a look at Arnold Palmer’s Island Nine and Jack Nicklaus’ Bluff Nine at Champions Retreat.