Hannah Darling sets birdie record, leads Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Hannah Darling plays the 12th hole during the first round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur at Champions Retreat on Wednesday in Evans, Ga.

Hannah Darling plays the 12th hole during the first round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur at Champions Retreat on Wednesday in Evans, Ga.

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Hannah Darling is back at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur for a third time, and apparently she’s plenty comfortable.

Darling opened her first round on Wednesday with three straight birdies and made six total on the front. She finished with eight birdies overall — a tournament record — en route to her six-under 66 and first-round lead at Champions Retreat in Evans, Ga.

“The way I thought my way around the golf course was great today,” said Darling, who is from Bonnyrigg, Scotland, and is a junior on the South Carolina women’s golf team. “I was really disciplined. Me and my caddie, we made some really smart targets, and we were just hitting committed shots to those targets. I hit pretty much every shot today great, and I didn’t hit every great golf shot, but we hit great shots to our intention and to our targets.”

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Last year at the ANWA, Darling missed the cut by a stroke. In 2022 she tied for 27th.

On Wednesday, Darling, 20, made a 10-foot downhill putt for birdie on the opening hole, then drained a 30-footer for birdie on the second. She rolled in a four-footer for her third straight birdie. She bogeyed the next two, only to birdie three of the next four for a four-under 32 on the front.

“I remember hearing an Annika [Sorenstam] quote when she shot 59, she had made quite a few birdies in a row, and she was like, ‘I just need to make a par,'” Darling said. “I said to my caddie, I just want to make a par, and I made a bogey. I was settled down. I was fine. But yeah, I just made some great putts that normally wouldn’t drop, but they did today, and yeah, it was a great day.”

Francesca Fiorellini, Eila Galitsky and Ingrid Lindblad all shot 65 and are one off the lead after the opening day. Lindblad, the top-ranked women’s amateur, is making her fourth ANWA appearance, and in both 2021 and 2022 she finished a shot behind the winner.

Last year’s winner, Rose Zhang, turned pro, but 2022 ANWA champ Anna Davis is two under and T12 after the first round.

The ANWA resumes with the second round on Thursday at Champions Retreat, with the top 30 and ties advancing to the final round on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club. Here’s how you can track all of the action on Thursday.

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.

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