Spring has officially sprung and the golf calendar is in full swing. The Masters is just around the corner, but first, Augusta National opens its doors to some of the best women’s amateurs in the world.
For the third time ever, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur will showcase high level golf in the women’s game at the most famous venue in the sport. The first two iterations of the championship featured epic back-nine showdowns and heartbreaking collapses, and if this year can match that excitement, golf fans are in for a treat.
The ANWA is 54 holes of stroke play. The first 36 will be played at Champions Retreat in Evans, Ga. on Wednesday and Thursday, with a cut down to the top 30 after 36 holes. The entire field plays a practice round at Augusta National on Friday, and the tournament’s remaining 30 players play 18 holes on Saturday to crown a champion.
The final round will be broadcast 12-3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports on Saturday.
Here are five storylines to keep an eye on at Augusta this weekend.
1. Redemption for Rose?
The 2021 ANWA ended in heartbreak for Rose Zhang. The top-ranked amateur held the lead on the back nine and seemed to be in total control, but a disastrous triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 13th derailed her chances at the title. She went on to fire a final-round 75 and finished a stroke out of a playoff with Emilia Migliaccio and eventual champion Tsubasa Kajitani.
One year later, Zhang is headed back to Augusta National with hopes of avenging her heartbreak from a year ago.
Now a freshman at Stanford, Zhang is still the top dog in the women’s amateur game, and she’ll enter the week as the favorite. Her freshman season has been sensational thus far, winning her first four events to begin the season, and the only thing that could make it better is redemption on golf’s holiest grounds.
“It would be absolutely amazing,” Zhang said of the prospect of winning the ANWA. “This event is just so special with the venue. Just playing in [the ANWA] is part of history, but to have your name on the trophy would just be even more amazing.”
2. A star in the making
Megha Ganne captured golf fans’ hearts last summer in San Francisco. With a thousand-megawatt smile and some pretty great golf to complement, the 17-year-old played her way into the final group during the final round at the U.S. Women’s Open, eventually finishing as low am. The week introduced golf fans to one of the most endearing personalities in the women’s game and a rising star to watch.
This week, Ganne is back competing at Augusta for the second time. The 18-year-old made her debut in the event last year, but she missed the cut — and a chance to play at Augusta National for the final round.
But things are much different for Ganne this time around. Since her debut last spring, she’s risen to 16th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and she’s among the most recognizable names in the field. Now, the Stanford commit is looking for the biggest win of her career.
3. Castle looks for another big win
Speaking of big wins, no one in the field has a bigger victory over the last 12 months than Jensen Castle.
The 21-year-old penned a Cinderella story at Westchester Country Club last summer, making an unlikely run to the U.S. Women’s Amateur crown, and now she’s headed to this event for the first time.
At 21 years old, she’s among the oldest competitors in the field, and stepping foot at Augusta National will be a “dream come true.”
Does Castle have another Cinderella run in her?
4. Zweig continues her rise
Avery Zweig is among the youngest players in the ANWA field this week, but make no mistake — this girl has got serious game.
The 15-year-old has already competed at Augusta National three times as a Drive, Chip and Putt finalist, and now she’ll make her debut in the ANWA. But just because she can’t legally drive a car yet doesn’t mean she isn’t a threat — she’s won over 200 times in her junior career, and won four World Amateur Golf Ranking events in 2021 alone.
Zweig might have to sit in the passenger seat on the drive down Magnolia Lane, but her game should hold up just fine.
5. Keep an eye on the Swedes
Sweden will be well-represented at the ANWA. Ingrid Lindblad, Meja Ortengren and Beatrice Wallin will each compete this week, and each will look to add to Sweden’s storied golf history.
Lindblad very nearly claimed the title last year, eventually finishing T3, and she’ll look to redeem herself this week. As the No. 2-ranked amateur in the world, she’s got the game needed to compete, and she’s sure to be a factor come Saturday.
Wallin and Ortengren should feel confident in their chances as well. Wallin is ranked fifth in the World Amateur Golf ranking and finished T10 in the event last year, while Ortengren, 18th in the world, makes her debut.
The red and white of Japan ruled Augusta last spring. Will Sweden’s blue and yellow do the same this year?