Yes, I had to read that twice because I didn’t believe my eyes…
Masters chairman Fred Ridley (pictured) announced on Wednesday the creation of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.
The event, set to kick off Masters week in April 2019, will feature the top 72 women’s amateurs from around the world.
The first two rounds of the tournament will be held at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club. Following a cut to the low 30 players, the final round will be held at Augusta National on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
“This championship will become an exciting edition to the Masters week, and it furthers our effort to promote the sport and inspire young women to take up the game,” Ridley said.
The champion will receive an exemption into next year’s U.S. Women’s Open and the Women’s British Open, as well as any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur events for a year.
The field will be comprised of all of the winners from the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Ladies’ British Amateur, Women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur, U.S. Girls’ Junior, Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship, Girls Junior PGA Championship. In addition, the top 30 players in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking not already qualified will receive invitations to the event, as well as the top 30 players from the United States. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship Committee will fill the remaining positions.
The new Augusta amateur event could pose an issue for the LPGA. The tour’s first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, is held the week before the Masters, and the tournament already invites six of the top amateurs in the world, and a seventh qualifies as the winner of the ANA Junior Inspiration.
Ridley said Wednesday that he has already spoken to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan about the conflict and that Whan “understands our motivations for doing this, our motivation to help grow the game. He also agrees wholeheartedly that, from a big picture, this is a win for women’s golf.”
More details about the event – including a global television partner and the winner’s trophy – will be announced at a later date. The club intends to offer a lottery for a “significant” number of tickets.
“This is a dream come true,” said Annika Sorenstam, who attended Wednesday’s announcement. “It’s a carrot for these young girls.”
The Women’s Amateur Championship is the latest grow-the-game initiative by Augusta National Golf Club, which also created the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, the Latin America Amateur Championship and the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.
I first remember seeing Fred Ridley in person when he was Captain of the American 1987 Walker Cup team at Sunningdale. He and his wife were the most perfect couple. With their all American charm they kept on saying to people in infinite perkiness “He-llo! How are yew!” he left a lasting impression. Good one Fred.