RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — When Aline Krauter sunk her par putt on the 18th green at West Lancashire to win the Women’s Amateur last summer, the world of golf was suddenly at her fingertips.
Exemptions into the AIG Women’s Open, the U.S. Women’s Open and The Evian Championship were among her spoils. The the sweetest of them all though, at least for an amateur golfer like herself, was an invitation to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Krauter didn’t accept the invitation. Despite holding onto the golden ticket of women’s amateur golf, the Stanford junior has instead opted to set her sights a bit higher and compete with the best players in the world at this week’s ANA Inspiration.
The backdrop is quite different than what her peers have to look forward to this week. Palms instead of pines. Dry, not humid. Pros vs. amateurs. In the end, that’s what the decision boiled down to.
“It was definitely not an easy decision,” Krauter told GOLF.com. “But I definitely didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to play a pro event and I’m super excited to be here.”
The young German is not alone in having a schedule conflict this week. The No. 1-ranked amateur in the world Rose Zhang was presented with the same dilemma after winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur in August. Zhang opted to head to Augusta.
LPGA Tour player and Stanford alum Albane Valenzuela is another notable example of the conflict posed by hosting the ANWA the same week as the ANA. In 2019 she received invitations to play in both events. Like Krauter, she too opted to tee it up alongside the pros.
“[I have] Absolutely no regrets,” Valenzuela said in a recent interview with GOLF.com. “I think if I made the decision at the time, it’s because I thought it was the right one. And ANA has always played such a special role in my career. It’s probably the reason I even participated in the Olympics in 2016, having that opportunity as an amateur to compete in the ANA.”
Krauter consulted her entire cohort when deciding whether she wanted to head east or stay out west. Her parents, her swing coach, her college coach and even her teammates who have played in the ANA before. In the end though, it was Krauter’s choice alone. The chance to play alongside the world’s top professionals was too tantalizing to pass up.
“I can’t wait to compete with the world’s best players on the LPGA,” Krauter said. “I think this is a great opportunity.”
The chance to compete with the game’s best isn’t the only reason ANA beckoned Krauter. Playing Mission Hills Country Club in tournament conditions will be an invaluable experience for her career, especially when considering how the course will play this week.
After a year when the tournament was forced to be held outside its typical spring timeslot, the ANA is back in familiar territory. And with familiar dates comes a familiar golf course — firm and fast.
“There are endless opportunities to learn from each and every one of these players,” Krauter said. “[And] being on a golf course like this even is such a great opportunity.”
All eyes in amateur golf might be on Augusta National this week, but for one amateur, her gaze is fixed upon the Dinah Shore trophy and hopes of a Sunday date with Poppie’s Pond