EVANS, Ga. – Kate Smith cried on and off the previous few weeks as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur approached.
They had been joyful and anxious tears.
“It’s probably the best moment of my life so far,” she stated. “Kind of everything to gain this week.”
Maybe even a shot on the title.
The senior at Nebraska was the most popular participant on the course Wednesday at Champions Retreat when the opening spherical was suspended as a result of of inclement climate. When play was known as, Smith was 4 below by way of 11 holes – already three clear of the sphere – and dealing with a 7-footer for par on No. 12.
“A normal tournament I’d be pretty disappointed,” she stated, “but this week, everything has been so awesome, I’m just excited for another day here – another day to go low and make some putts.”
Smith was bogey-free on a day when solely two gamers had been within the clubhouse with an under-par rating. Rose Zhang, the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion who’s the top-ranked participant on this planet, posted a 1-under 71, together with Spain’s Ana Peleaz. Three different gamers had been 1 below par when the horn sounded, together with world No. 2 Linn Grant.
“It was a fun round,” Smith stated, “and I’m excited to finish it off sometime soon.”
First-round play is about to renew at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday. Twenty-nine gamers have but to finish their opening spherical, which may make for a marathon Thursday throughout which the sphere is meant to be trimmed to the low 30 to compete within the third and closing spherical Saturday at Augusta National.
Just seven gamers broke par after 36 holes at this occasion in 2019, and Champions Retreat was as unforgiving as ever Wednesday as the wind kicked up forward of the incoming chilly entrance. Stretched out to almost 6,500 yards, the course gave the gamers all they may deal with with agency, slick greens that had been unreceptive to mid-iron approaches. There’s already been 22 rounds of 77 or worse.
“The greens are very, very difficult, and with the wind, it’s even more difficult,” stated Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, the world No. 3 who opened with 75. “That’s the reason why there’s not very low scores.”
Except, of course, for Smith, who could have work to do Thursday morning to maintain a clear card. A fifth-year senior at Nebraska, she was notified by Augusta National late final fall that she was into consideration for an ANWA invitation as one of the highest 30 American amateurs. Wanting to maintain her recreation sharp, the 21-year-old from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, headed south to Florida through the winter and examined her recreation in opposition to the ladies’s elite. She additionally underwent an angle adjustment.
“I really worked hard the last few months,” she stated. “I told myself: You can win this event, not just make the cut. You can be up there. You’re just as good as everyone else.”
A couple of weeks in the past, she received her first faculty occasion and now has steamrolled into Augusta, brimming with confidence, able to star on the most important stage of her profession.