Women's golf legends hit ceremonial tee shots at Augusta National

Getty Images

Getty Images

Will this event eventually lead to a LPGA event being played at Augusta National Golf Club?

The final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur (ANWA) was played on Saturday - the first time women played the course for a trophy.

USA world No 1 Jennifer Kupcho, fighting a bout of migraine that impaired vision on her left eye for over 30 minutes, shot five-under over her last six holes to win by four shots over world No 9 Maria Fassi of Mexico. She dried off in time to visit Butler Cabin and hoist the silver bowl during the trophy presentation on the tournament practice area, in front of her fellow competitors and seven rows of green-jacket-wearing members. After all, it was just 17 years ago that Martha Burk and her women's advocacy group first challenged the club over its all-male membership.

The final round saw women compete in a tournament at Augusta for the very first time, with the first two rounds being held at Champions Retreat Golf Club.

Certainly it was an emotional day for golfing greats Nancy Lopez, Pak Se-ri, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, who took part in a ceremonial tee shot then watched as 30 young women seized an opportunity that had never been open to them.

The LaBrae graduate shot 1-under par in her Augusta National debut on Saturday, closing out the Augusta National Women's Amateur tied for seventh place.

Kupcho beat out 71 other golfers (including Fassi), but despite the tournament being billed as the Augusta National Women's Amateur, not all of them got to compete on the course.

Augusta National also hosts the hugely popular Drive, Chip and Putt Championship for both boys and girls and has now put its name and branding muscle to a women's tournament.

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Afterward, the stoic 21-year-old finally showed some emotion, punching the air with her fist and shrugging her shoulders before getting doused with water behind the green.

Only six women finished under par, and no one challenged Kupcho or Fassi, a senior at Arkansas from Mexico. Kupcho had reason to believe she was in trouble when a migraine surfaced, causing vision so blurry she couldn't see the line she marks on her ball while putting. She dropped a shot further behind on No. 10 when she waved at a 3-footer that snapped her streak of 101 holes without a three-putt. "The kids watching on TV, they grow up the way they are seeing it, so this is going to give a huge impact and motivation for the kids being future golfers".

The American found centre fairway on 13 and pulled the trigger from 211 yards with her second, a towering strike settling eight feet above the flag before she guided her eagle try home. Ochoa had been one of the four legends who hit opening tee shots earlier in the day. However, a three-putt bogey on the par-3 16th and a bogey on the 18th resulted in a two-under-par 70. Instead, it came out with a sharp draw, with enough distance to roll by the pin just over the back, setting up a birdie.

Tied again, she delivered the victor with a 7-iron on the par-3 16th that caught the ridge and fed down to the hole.

HELPING HAND: After parring No. 11, Kupcho made the short walk to No. 12 tee box. "It's truly a magical place to play golf". Of course the ending wasn't what I would have liked, but it was still awesome. She was hitting great shots. I did all I could. "It was really hard, but I'm really happy with having four birdies at Augusta".

American Anna Redding, a University of Virginia senior, was the first competitor to tee off, but she was eight strokes adrift of USA leader Jennifer Kupcho.

That's what Kupcho hopes young people took out of the moment, as much as women playing at Augusta. I mean, on nine green, I said, 'I can't see anything, so just tell me where to hit it'.

"And [we wanted] to make it look fun".

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