Olivia Mehaffey made the top 30 who qualified for tomorrow’s final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at the famed Masters course.
She tied for 11th on one-over after after following an opening 73 at Champions Retreat Golf Club with a 72, finishing six shots behind world number one Jennifer Kupcho, who shot a 71.
There was an 11-way playoff for the last 10 spots on three-over but Mehaffey (21) had no such worries and can enjoy a practice round with the entire 72-strong field at Augusta National today as well as Saturday’s final round.
Kupcho, a senior at Wake Forest and the reigning NCAA champion, was bogey-free through 31 holes at Champions Retreat Golf Club and reached seven under par.
She dropped shots, however, on the fifth and eighth holes to finish one-under-par 71 for the day, leaving her at five-under-par 139 after the first 36 holes.
Fassi, Kupcho’s good friend and the 2018 ANNIKA Award winner as the top female collegiate golfer, birdied two of her final three holes to record a second consecutive round of two-under 70 for a four-under-par 140 total through two rounds.
Sierra Brooks (70) and Kaitlyn Papp (69), both of the United States, and Thailand’s Pimnipa Panthong (70), are tied for third place at three-under-par 141.
With the top 30 advancing to the final round on Saturday at Augusta National, there was late drama in store for patrons as 11 players tied for 21st place at three over par through 36 holes.
In the playoff, nine players safely negotiated the par-4 10th hole with pars, leaving Ainhoa Olarra of Spain and Alessia Nobilio of Italy fighting for the final place.
Olarra, who works as an auditor in Madrid, grabbed the final spot on the second playoff hole – the par-3 17th – where she rolled in a birdie putt from 25 feet.
The 21-year-old Kupcho and Fassi, a senior at University of Arkansas, have already qualified for the LPGA through last year’s Q-Series, but deferred turning pro until after this year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship in May.
Kupcho started from the 10th tee and negotiated the tougher Bluff Nine at Champions Retreat in two under par with birdies on the par-3 11th and 17th holes. She picked up another stroke on the par-4 first, but she missed a short birdie putt on her 11th hole, the second of the Island Nine, and struggled with her swing after that.
“I started out strong and was hitting the ball really well,” said Kupcho. “After the bogey on the fifth, I was just trying to get through six, honestly – and then the seventh, eighth and ninth were all birdie holes. Obviously, I didn't make any, and I didn't really give myself an opportunity.
“Hopefully, I can go out and figure out what was going on with my swing.”
The long-hitting Fassi averaged 289.2 yards off the tee in the opening round. On Thursday, she eagled the toughest hole on the golf course – the par-5 14th where she chipped in from 40 yards – and made an additional five birdies, but also mixed in five bogeys.
Even though she was not the most accurate with her driver, she felt she held an advantage over the field at Augusta National.
“I knew I had to post an under-par score to be in contention for Saturday, and it was just exciting to see that I made so many birdies,” said the 21-year-old from Pachuca.
“I definitely think my length will help. It allowed me to make the number of birdies that I made here. It also got me in some trouble, but I think at Augusta National, it's going to be really beneficial just to help me hit those high shots that land soft to those greens.”
Zoe Campos (75), the 16-year-old from Valencia, Calif., who jointly led with Kupcho at four-under through the first round, dropped to seventh place at one under par, one shot behind Japan’s Yuka Yasuda (70).
Augusta National Women’s Amateur, after 36 holes at Champions Retreat GC (Par 72)
1, Jennifer Kupcho, 68-71-139,-5
2, Maria Fassi, 70-70-140,-4
T3, Pimnipa Panthong, 71-70-141,-3
T3, Sierra Brooks, 71-70-141,-3
T3, Kaitlyn Papp, 72-69-141,-3
6, Yuka Yasuda, 72-70-142,-2
7, Zoe Campos, 68-75-143,-1
T8, Rose Zhang, 72-72-144,E
T8, Jaravee Boonchant, 72-72-144,E
T8, Haley Moore, 71-73-144,E
T11, Haylee Harford, 73-72-145,+1
T11, Caterina Don, 73-72-145,+1
T11, Maja Stark, 70-75-145,+1
T11, Alice Hewson, 76-69-145,+1
T11, Yuka Saso, 72-73-145,+1
T11, Marta Perez, 70-75-145,+1
T11, Beatrice Wallin, 71-74-145,+1
T11, Olivia Mehaffey, 73-72-145,+1
T19, Erica Shepherd, 71-75-146,+2
T19, Natalie Srinivasan, 73-73-146,+2
T21, Kaleigh Telfer, 69-78-147,+3
T21, Sofia Anokhina, 77-70-147,+3
T21, Amanda Doherty, 74-73-147,+3
T21, Agathe Laisne, 72-75-147,+3
T21, Emma Spitz, 71-76-147,+3
T21, Seo-yun Kwon, 71-76-147,+3
T21, Allisen Corpuz, 75-72-147,+3
T21, Andrea Lee, 73-74-147,+3
T21, Anna Redding, 73-74-147,+3
T21, Ainhoa Olarra, 75-72-147,+3
Failed to Qualify
Alessia Nobilio,76-71-147, CUT
Yu-Chiang Hou,74-74-148, CUT
Alessandra Fanali,70-78-148, CUT
Alexa Pano,77-71-148, CUT
Yu-Sang Hou, 75-73-148, CUT
Atthaya Thitikul, 79-69-148 ,CUT
Isabella Fierro, 73-76-149, CUT
Emilee Hoffman, 75-74-149, CUT
Dylan Kim, 75-74-149, CUT
Kaylee Benton, 78-72-150, CUT
Jiwon Jeon, 76-74-150, CUT
Annabell Fuller, 73-77-150, CUT
Gina Kim, 77-73-150, CUT
Alyaa Abdulghany, 75-75-150, CUT
Michaela Finn, 76-74-150, CUT
Sophie Hausmann, 73-78-151, CUT
Hanna Alberto, 77-74-151, CUT
Emilia Migliaccio, 78-73-151, CUT
Lei Ye, 78-73-151,CUT
Linn Grant, 79-72-151, CUT
Hee Ying Loy, 76-76-152, CUT
Ellie Slama, 75-78-153, CUT
Ana Belac, 80-73-153, CUT
Virginia Elena Carta, 79-74-153,CUT
Tristyn Nowlin, 76-77-153, CUT
Alice Chen, 78-75-153, CUT
Brigitte Thibault, 79-75-154, CUT
Clarisse Louis, 79-75-154, CUT
Tilda Larsson, 79-75-154, CUT
Allyson Geer-Park, 78-76-154, CUT
Leonie Harm, 78-76-154, CUT
Jennifer Chang, 78-76-154, CUT
Lauren Hartlage, 76-79-155, CUT
Wenyung Keh, 83-72-155, CUT
Lily May Humphreys, 78-78-156, CUT
Brooke Seay, 74-83-157, CUT
Valentina Giraldo, 79-78-157, CUT
Julienne Soo, 81-77-158, CUT
Mariah Smith, 80-79-159, CUT
Stephanie Lau, 81-78-159, CUT
Jessica Yuen, 80-82-162, CUT
Amanda Linnér, 81-81-162, CUT