04 April 2019: The challenge of the Bluff and the opportunity on the Island combined to pose some interesting questions as the first round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur produced some memorable action. The world No.1 amateur, Jennifer Kupcho, made it her mission to produce some of her best golf in a spotless 68 that helped her to the top of the leaderboard.
Zoe Campos brushed aside bogeys at the 8th and 16th holes to match Kupcho at the top of the pecking order. Thai prodigy Atthaya Thitikul found the going tough as she signed on a 79 in the opening round of the inaugural edition of another great tradition taking shape in Georgia.
South African Kaleigh Telfer made a clutch birdie at the ninth to move into the third position. Telfer made a nice putt from around 15 feet to move up to three under on what was her final hole for the day.
Indian American Natalie Srinivasan made a 73 to end the first day at T21.
The Champions Retreat Golf Club, the host to the first two rounds before the girls move to Augusta National for the final round, saw some moments of brilliance that will etch themselves into history for making this grand occasion one to remember. Marta Perez drove the green on the par-4 seventh hole before finding the cup from inside ten feet to record the first eagle of the event. The Spaniard is lying T4 with 2018 ANNIKA Award winner Maria Fassi, Alessandra Fanali and Maja Stark – all of them at two under 70.
The 21-year-old senior from Wake Forest, Kupcho was delighted with her blemishless effort in the opening round. She made all 18 greens in regulation for her 68.
“I think this is the first time ever when I had no bogeys and hit 18 greens together. So probably the first perfect round I’ve played,” said Kupcho, who made three birdies on the more challenging second nine.
“Obviously, I could have made a few more putts. I had a lot of pretty decent putts, like 20 feet and in, so I could have made more, but you can’t ask to make everything on these greens. They are really hard to read.”
Co-leader Campos did not have it all that smooth, needing six birdies for her 68.
“I had a slow start with my putting, but I got it going during the middle and towards the end. I also felt like my swing was on point today,” said Campos.
“My first birdie was on the par-3 sixth hole where I hit a really good shot right at the pin and made a 10-footer. That was when I knew I was going to have a good day. I just kept rolling my putts and everything felt really good.”
Telfer had the benefit of having Auburn University coach Andrew Pratt on her bag. His urging and wisdom helped her finish on a high, making a 15 footer to move into third place.
“On the last, he told me, ‘Just finish strong.’ I hit three good shots and was 15 feet from the hole and he gave me a great read,” said the 20-year-old from Kyalami.
“It was a very satisfying first round, especially as I got a special invite. I was disappointed when the first list came out because I missed it narrowly. And then to get the call from Augusta National was amazing. I am so looking forward to tomorrow now.”
Only 14 golfers broke par in the opening round and seven of those were tied in eighth at 71. The top 30 golfers at the end of Thursday’s second round will play the final round at the Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday. But all 72 golfers will be afforded the practice round on Friday on the iconic course.
T1, Jennifer Kupcho,35-33-68,-4
T1, Zoe Campos,34-34-68,-4
3, Kaleigh Telfer,35-34-69,-3
T4, Marta Perez,35-35-70,-2
T4, Maria Fassi,35-35-70,-2
T4, Alessandra Fanali,34-36-70,-2
T4, Maja Stark,35-35-70,-2
T8, Beatrice Wallin,33-38-71,-1
T8, Haley Moore,35-36-71,-1
T8, Seo-yun Kwon,35-36-71,-1
T8, Sierra Brooks,33-38-71,-1
T8, Emma Spitz,36-35-71,-1
T8, Pimnipa Panthong,35-36-71,-1
T8, Erica Shepherd,32-39-71,-1
T15, Yuka Yasuda,35-37-72,E
T15, Yuka Saso,35-37-72,E
T15, Kaitlyn Papp,35-37-72,E
T15, Agathe Laisne,36-36-72,E
T15, Jaravee Boonchant,34-38-72,E
T15, Rose Zhang,36-36-72,E