Who’s the next college golf star? — Inside Bailey Tardy’s first tour win

The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, March 14, 2024

Happy Golf Thursday! The past two springs were all about Rose Zhang and her Stanford squad, but now that we’re a little over two months away from NCAA playoffs—who will be the star that emerges as the next collegiate standout?

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There’s no debating that Rose Zhang was the best collegiate golfer we’ve seen in recent memory. With a track record that includes 12 wins in just 20 events (the most in school history), back-to-back NCAA individual titles, a U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, and a 141-consecutive week run as the No. 1 women’s golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, to name just a few.

There will never be another Rose Zhang, and we shouldn’t expect or go searching for one. The talent pool of junior and college golf is rather plentiful. Still, Zhang’s reputation, in addition to what Nick Dunlap is doing on the PGA Tour, shows the game on the collegiate level has notoriety. That said, which player (or players) will rise to the occasion?

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But, there’s a crucial test before the playoffs even come into play—the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The event has quickly become one of the top amateur events, beyond the mystique that is Augusta National (but it’s still pretty cool). There are some key players to watch as spring rapidly approaches.

Anna Davis burst onto the scene after winning the ANWA in 2022. She spent the summer playing in a few LPGA events, getting necessary reps under her belt. She was a member of the 2023 Junior Solheim Cup team. She’s now a freshman at Auburn and made her collegiate debut in Puerto Rico last month, where she finished T-25.

Amari Avery of USC had an impressive spring last year, leading the Trojans in stroke average (71.76), rounds in the 60s (11), rounds of par or better (15), rounds under par (19), top 10 finishes (4) and top 25 finishes (9). Avery also made the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, firing a first-round 2-under 70.

Rachel Kuehn decided to take her fifth-year option at Wake Forest. With a resume that includes four All-America selections, two Curtis Cups, four Arnold Palmer Cup teams, and a national championship—there’s not much left for Kuehn to do at the collegiate level—and yet she stayed. She’s a true leader for her team and the energy she produces for her teammates will be beneficial over the next two months, as they embark on the journey to defend their title.

As the first-ranked amateur in the WAGR and the second-rank NCAA player, Ingrid Lindblad of LSU is nothing short of consistent. In her fifth year, she’s only played in six events, totaling 18 rounds, but she’s managed two wins and nothing lower than a fifth-place finish. LSU has been the type of team that flies under the radar, but they have the potential to be a disruption for the top-4 teams in the playoffs.

Maria Jose Marin is only a freshman at Arkansas but has the potential to be an All-American at the end of the year. She sits atop the college rankings and for good reason. In her college debut, she finished second behind Stanford’s Megha Ganne. A month later, in her second collegiate event, she got her first win at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational (an event hosted by Arkansas). She was highly decorated in her junior golf career, and I get the feeling that she’ll be a force in the college scene.

Other players to watch at ANWA:

  • Julia López Ramirez (Mississippi State)
  • Megha Ganne (Stanford)
  • Amanda Sambach (Virginia)
  • Yana Wilson
  • Gianna Clemente

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This week in women’s golf

If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at addieparker25@theixsports.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!


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Five at The IX: Bailey Tardy becomes a Rolex first-time winner

Q. You touched on it a little bit, but can you just talk about your road to the LPGA? You turned professional, still had college to finish up, went to Epson. Talk about your journey on Epson and getting to this point.

BAILEY TARDY: Yeah, getting to the LPGA wasn’t an easy path for me I don’t think. You know, I think played the 2019 year and COVID hit. Didn’t play great in 2019. So our status was the same for 2021. Ended up playing really well in 2020 and they gave out five cards, and missed the card by one spot. That happened basically the next two years for me.

So, yeah, it was a lot of self-reflecting trying to figure out if I was even good enough to be on the LPGA, if I wanted it enough. The life on the road is not for everybody, and so I just didn’t know if this was the profession for me.

Now that I’m an LPGA winner I’m so happy I stuck to it. This is a dream come true.

Q. Bailey, congratulations, I can see how much this means to you. The tears are starting to flow. Can you believe that you have just won your first win on the LPGA Tour in only your second year on tour?

BAILEY TARDY: Yeah, I mean, a lot of emotions right now. A lot of hard work and just a lot of doubt that was in my head that I could be at this level and win.

This is special.

Q. You hit the ball beautifully today, playing alongside Lydia Ko, who was on the brink of making history herself, and you out played her. What were your thoughts coming into today?

BAILEY TARDY: You know I played with her yesterday and I was very intimidated playing with her. I think I handled myself really well, and, yeah, it was like playing with a friend today almost.

She made me feel really comfortable and confident out there.

Q. How good is this winning feeling? They’re a lively crowd and you’re a winner on the LPGA Tour.

BAILEY TARDY: Yeah, the crowds were great today. They followed us all day and cheered for everyone, so, yeah, it’s such a great feeling.

Q. Is this a pinch-me moment?

BAILEY TARDY: Kind of. My caddie said to enjoy the walk. I said not yet. Just not yet. So I’m just really excited this win definitely means a lot.

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Written by Addie Parker