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No. 1 Rose Zhang looks to fend off host of world-beaters at tough ANWA finale

AUGUSTA, Georgia – In one respect, Olivia Mehaffey says each competitor is identical this week. There’s every little thing to acquire by successful the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and each participant is probably going considering it.

“I think after seeing what Jennifer [Kupcho] and Maria [Fassi] did last year, you want to be in their shoes and you want to experience what they experience, so I think to anybody it would mean a lot,” she stated.

How many gamers can nonetheless realistically stroll away with the title? Mehaffey, at even par and one shot off the lead, is definitely one of them. With Rose Zhang and Ingrid Lindblad – the Nos. 1- and 5- ranked amateurs on this planet – forward of her, Mehaffey could have to rating.

The identical holds true for anybody inside three or 4 pictures of Zhang and Lindblad at 1 beneath. The chase was one of essentially the most thrilling components of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Jennifer Kupcho performed the again 9 in 4 beneath – and with a memorable eagle at No. 13 – to end 4 pictures forward of Maria Fassi.

Course setup and circumstances will play a job in simply how aggressively gamers could be, notably on the again 9 and the par 5s. Many gamers reported {that a} headwind at the par-5 thirteenth on Friday made it unwise to go for the inexperienced in two pictures. To go for the par-5 fifteenth in two requires the suitable positioning off the tee.

How aggressive are you able to play at Augusta National?

“I think aggressive to smart targets,” Mehaffey stated.

Erica Shepherd enters the day seven pictures off the lead. She’s already accomplished some leaderboard math, notably when it comes to who’s nonetheless in rivalry.

“I think anything is possible, especially out here,” Shepherd stated. “You can go low out here. If you have the lines on putts, you aren’t going to hit a bump or anything and it’s going to go off line. I think anything is possible. Scores aren’t as low this year obviously because of how tough the conditions were.”

Auston Kim, who’s even and one shot again, solutions that query a bit of bit otherwise. This stage – the most important stage, arguably, in ladies’s newbie golf – requires greater than shot-making. Kim doesn’t have a psychological coach, however she’s a bookworm, notably when it comes to nonfiction. It’s a method she’s calmed her thoughts, and the teachings she’s learn might be key on Saturday.

The remaining spherical at Augusta National would require “beyond normal strength.” She can’t get forward of herself or dwell on the previous.

“It’s only as tough as you make it,” she stated. “I know it’s a tough course but I don’t want to let it get to me tomorrow.”

Conditions could complicate any type of chase, notably if opponents are met with wind and chill, like they had been within the follow spherical. Amelia Garvey, a USC participant who missed the minimize, stated she performed very well within the follow spherical to shoot even. She doesn’t see a quantity within the 60s on the market within the remaining spherical.

Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, a South Carolina participant who will begin the day 5 pictures again, thinks the greens will forestall any sort of wild scoring.

“It’s going to be definitely difficult to be in the 60s,” she stated.

Asked about making up floor, Gina Kim, who’s 1 over and two pictures off the lead, referenced some scrambling from the second spherical at Champions Retreat. She solely hit 9 greens in that spherical and nonetheless got here out with a bogey-free spherical of 1-under.

A chase would require endurance.

“I think just kind of staying patient and waiting for an opportunity to come, I think that will be key for me to kind of find my way on top of the leaderboard,” she stated.

The leaders are unlikely to hand over a lot floor.

Linblad thinks hitting fairways might be key. There might be bogeys on the market, so birdies might be doubly necessary. The LSU sophomore impressed her caddie on Friday together with her excessive ball flight. It could also be her greatest benefit.

“I hit my irons pretty high,” she stated. “So my caddie was a little shocked on some holes today where he’s like, oh, you hit it that high?”

Back in 2018, Lindblad and Zhang performed three matches in a row towards one another at the Junior Ryder Cup. Lindblad’s facet received the foursomes match, however they tied in fourball and of their singles match, with Zhang getting back from 3 down with three holes to play to earn that half level.

On Friday, Zhang took lots of notes, principally in regards to the greens. Now she’ll have to execute.

Zhang, who received the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur and completed eleventh at the ANA Inspiration (an LPGA main) later within the fall, is aware of all about stress. How does Saturday examine to the weekend in a serious championship?

“Obviously this is a big event and tomorrow is the final round at Augusta National,” she stated. “I think there’s definitely nerves to it but just going to try to stay composed.”


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