Smith leads, 29 players yet to finish first round of Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Katherine Smith shot four under par and holds a three-stroke lead through 11 holes, before the first round got suspended due to inclement weather.

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Katherine Smith reacts to her birdie on no.9 during the first round - Ryan Young - Augusta National

The first round of the second annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur was suspended for the day at 4:32 p.m. EDT on Wednesday due to inclement weather with 29 players remaining to finish their rounds at Champions Retreat Golf Club. Megha Ganne started her week with a 77 while Gurleen Kaur shot an 80 in the opening round.

Play is scheduled to resume Thursday at 7:45 a.m. The second round will begin simultaneously at 7:45 a.m. EDT off the No. 1 tee, as scheduled. Second-round groupings will remain the same as round one.

Katherine Smith, the leader at four under par, has completed only 11 holes. She holds a three-stroke lead over Ana Peláez Triviño, Rose Zhang, Karen Fredgaard, Kiira Riihijarvi and Linn Grant. Peláez Triviño and Zhang, the No. 1 ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), both shot one-under 71 and have finished their rounds. Fredgaard, Riihijarvi and Grant will complete their rounds Thursday morning.

“It was a fun round, and I’m excited to finish it,” said Smith, a 21-year-old senior and graphic design major at the University of Nebraska. She won her first college event just two weeks ago and entered this week with a newfound confidence and her older brother Karter as her caddie.

On a day when low scores were not in abundance, Smith, teeing off at 12:50 p.m., collected three birdies over her first nine holes and added one more at No. 10. She completed her last hole with her seventh par of the day on No. 11 before play was suspended.

“As long as you were hitting greens, there’s opportunities to make birdies,” said Smith, ranked No. 134 in the WAGR. “I was hitting the ball well, hitting my long irons well with a lot of chances for birdies.”

When Smith resumes her first round on Thursday, she’ll face a seven-foot par putt on the 12th hole.

“It’s uphill though,” she said. “I think it’ll be pretty straight.”

Zhang, 17, entered the championship among the favorites to contend. She got off to a hot start with birdies on the second and third holes, followed by a bogey at the par-4 fourth hole and rattled off 11 consecutive pars. Zhang bogeyed the 16th hole when she three-putted from 20 feet but rebounded on the par-3 17th, when she hit her tee shot to two feet and made the birdie putt. She shot one-under 71.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased,” Zhang said. “The course wasn’t playing the easiest, and I made a couple mistakes out there, but overall, I’m pretty satisfied.”

Peláez Triviño, a 23-year-old from Spain, was also steady all day and avoided large mistakes. The University of South Carolina senior birdied the third and ninth holes and made bogey on the 10th hole to record her 71.

Ana Pelaez Trivino - Chris Trotman - Augusta National
Ana Pelaez Trivino – Chris Trotman – Augusta National

“I feel pretty good,” said Peláez Triviño, ranked No. 12. “I think I could have had a couple more birdies, but I also feel I could have had a couple more bogeys out there. So, I’d say it’s a pretty good start for the tournament.”

The championship began at 7:45 a.m. EDT on Wednesday with Alexa Melton hitting the opening tee shot. The sophomore at the University of Southern California had to withdraw from the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur a week before the event because of a wrist injury.

On a chilly, overcast morning, Melton, 20, made three birdies on the first nine holes and ultimately recorded a four-over 76.

“I have never been more nervous in my life,” Melton said. “My heart was racing, but I couldn’t stop smiling.”

ANWA Golf Release, 01 Apr, 2021