A year ago at this time, the official website for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur picked 10 “Players to Watch” for the 2022 championship. The list included most of the top-ranked entrants at the time, including Rose Zhang, Amari Avery and Ingrid Lindblad.
A golfer not included: Anna Davis. It was completely understandable, because, at 16 years old, she was one of the youngest players in the field and making her ANWA debut. There was no reason to favor Davis among a bunch of college stars.
But we know what happened. Davis stunned them all with a final-round three-under-par 69 at Augusta National. It just goes to show that we can identify the favorites all we want for this week’s fourth ANWA, but among these talented young players, anybody in the 72-woman field seemingly has a chance to lift the trophy in the 54-hole event that will be contested on Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat, with the final round Saturday at Augusta National.
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Indeed, if we’re looking for trends, relatively unknown teenagers have won the last two titles, following the inaugural 2019 victory by Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho, who was 21 at the time and turned pro that summer (and now is a major champion after winning last year’s Chevron Championship).
Zhang, Avery and Lindblad all return to the ANWA, and for the first time in the tournament’s brief history, it will have a past champion trying to repeat. In fact, there are two this week: Davis and Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani, who curiously skipped her defense last year.
So, here are 12 players to watch, with no gurantees that any of them will win.
– Anna Davis. The California native was ranked 100th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking when she shot a final-round 69 to be the youngest player so far to win the ANWA. Now sthe 17-year-old is No. 9 in the world, mostly on the strength of competing in seven LPGA events after her victory and making the cut in five of them. Davis has two impressive wins in 2023, at the Junior Orange Bowl International and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.
– Ingrid Lindbald. In terms of past ANWA results, the 22-year-old Swede who plays at LSU should be the favorite. She tied for third in 2021 and second last year. It’s hard to fathom that the current WAGR No. 2 didn’t prevail in ’22, considering Lindblad made eagles at 8 and 15 and birdies at 3, 7 and 14. But she bogeyed the final hole to lose by one. This, after missing the ’21 ANWA playoff by one stroke. The résumé is all there, including being the low amateur at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open with a T-11.