Gearing up for Augusta — 5 things to know about the LPGA Drive On Championship
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Mar. 23, 2023
Spring is in the air, golf fans! We’re inching closer and closer to the most coveted week in golf — the Masters. But I can make the argument that we should all be just as excited about the week before the Masters and what it means for the future stars of women’s golf.
A year ago, we all were entranced by the bucket hat queen Anna Davis as she made history at just 16 years old. Before Davis, there was Jennifer Kupcho who was the world’s top ranked amateur at the time. En route to her victory at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) in 2019, she played her final six holes at five under; and now she’s one of the up and coming stars of the LPGA tour.
It seemly felt like Davis became a household name overnight and with her being back to defend, all eyes will be on her as well as other young stars in the amateur world. 14-year-old Gianna Clemente will be in the field at the ANWA, alongside Rose Zhang of Stanford who is a favorite to win. Plenty of eyes will be on Clemente though, who has proven herself to be a force already. Last year, she became the youngest player to Monday-qualify for three consecutive LPGA events.
Find the full list of players here.
All players received an invitation, much like those who play in the Masters. For this year’s championship player qualifications included:
1. Reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion
2. Reigning Women’s Amateur Champion
3. Reigning Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Champion
4. Reigning R&A Girls Amateur Champion
5. Reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion
6. Reigning Girls Junior PGA Champion
7. Past champions of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur within the last five years
8. The 30 highest ranked players from the United States of America based on the prior year’s (2022) final Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, not otherwise qualified
9. After qualifications 1-8 above, the 30 highest ranked players not otherwise qualified, as listed on the prior year’s (2022) final Women’s World Amateur Ranking
10. Players receiving special invitations from the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Committee
The winner will receive an invitation to the next five Augusta National Women’s Amateurs, the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2023 Women’s Open, the Chevron Championship, and any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur championships for which she is eligible for one year. (All based on if she maintains amateur status.)
The 54-hole tournament will begin on March 29, the first two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. The entire field will be invited for a practice round at Augusta, but only the top 30 plus ties will advance for the final round on Saturday, April 1. Last year’s ANWA took place during the same week as the first major for the LPGA tour — the Chevron Championship — which sparked a little outrage. Most of these players qualified for the major and were made to pick which event to play in. With the Chevron Championship being slated for later in April, this opens up the doors for these players to compete in both if they choose.
The first and second rounds of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur will be broadcast live on Golf Channel (1:30-3:30 p.m. ET) from Champions Retreat Golf Club. NBC Sports will produce and broadcast three hours (12-3 p.m. ET) of live final-round coverage of the event at Augusta National.
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This week in women’s golf
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Five at The IX: LPGA Drive On Championship
There’s a rich, women-filled history at Superstition Mountain. From LPGA legends like Annika, Lorena Ochoa, and Juli Inkster to stars like Jennifer Kupcho and Anna Nordqvist, this course serves as a desert haven to the LPGA tour. 40% of the club’s membership is made up of female golfers…so yeah we LOVE that.
This is the first full field of the 2023 season!!! 144 players, including two Monday qualifiers — Yaeeun Hong and Celine Herbin — and a few of the world’s best like Nelly, Jin Young, defending champ Leona Maguire and Lexi Thompson, who is making her season debut.
The purse is sitting at $1.75 million.
The rookies are HERE. Epson Tour grads like Lucy Li, Xiaowen Yin, Kiira Riihijarvi, Grace Kim, Celine Borge, Gabriella Then, Yan Liu and Hyo Joon Jang will make their LPGA tour debut.
Q series grads Alexa Pano and Bailey Tardy will also tee it up.
The Fan Experience
The 19th Hole Beer Garden, located near the driving range, will feature DJs and flat screen TVs that will broadcast both the tournament coverage and some March Madness.
This year marks the fifth playing of the LPGA Drive On Championship, which was created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The phrase “Drive On” was coined by Roberta Bowman the former Chief Brand and Communications Officer of the LPGA to show the resilience of the tour, especially since the start of the pandemic.
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