Olivia Mehaffey is five strokes off the lead but still inside the crucial top 30 after the opening round of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur.
She opened with a one-over 73 — making two birdies and three bogeys — in the first of two qualifying rounds at Champions Retreat yesterday — some 15 miles from Augusta National — as playing partner Jennifer Kupcho shot a four-under 68 and was joined in a share of the lead by 16-year-old Zoe Campos..
Mehaffey is tied for 21s and while the entire field will get to play Augusta National in practice tomorrow, she must be inside the top 30 after another round at Champions Retreat today to qualify for Saturday's final round on the Masters course.
Kupcho, who hit the first shot in the history of the championship, compiled a bogey-free round of four-under-par at Champions Retreat before being joined at that score by Campos.
Another invitee, South Africa’s Kaleigh Telfer, birdied the ninth hole – her last – from 15 feet to secure solo third place at three-under-par 69.
Spain’s Marta Perez, who made the first eagle in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur – an eagle two, in fact, on the par-4 seventh hole when she drove the green and made a nine-foot putt – is tied for fourth at 70 along with the 2018 ANNIKA Award winner Maria Fassi of Mexico, Alessandra Fanali of Italy and Maja Stark of Sweden.
Kupcho, a 21-year-old senior at Wake Forest, who has deferred joining the LPGA despite finishing second in the Q-Series last year, has been in fine form coming into the championship.
She won the individual titles at the Tar Heel Classic and Bryan National Collegiate in the last two weeks and was a combined 26 under par for her last six rounds entering today.
At Champions Retreat, she followed it up with what she called a “perfect round” – all 18 greens hit in regulation and no bogeys.
“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 just one birdie on her first nine, courtesy of a laser-guided 5-iron shot to seven feet on the par-3 eighth, and three on the tougher second nine.
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