AUGUSTA, Ga. — Laughter, smiles, tears. The ceremonial opening tee shot to the final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur had them all … and that was just from the four guests of honor.
Introduced by Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley, World Golf Hall of Famers Se Ri Pak, Lorena Ochoa, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam took to the first tee on Saturday morning in front of an appreciative gallery of thousands, helping provide the historic day an extra bit of shine. Behind them sat a few rows of young girls, along with several surrounding the tee box. Former chairman Billy Payne was there, as was two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson. A pair of female membres at Augusta National, Condoleezza Rice and former USGA president Diana Murphy, were among the dignitaries watching as well.
“It’s just so emotional,” said a tearful Lopez. “This whole week really. The spirit around this entire tournament has been unbelievable. And to see the way these girls have played is just so impressive.”
There was genuine relief in the faces of all four players after they hit the shots. The moment was big, even for players who’s careers have been defined by big moments.
“It's so exciting to see [the players] and talking to them after their rounds, the smiles are up to their ear, all of them,” Sorenstam said on Friday. “They can't stop smiling and it's a dream come true. I'm so happy for them.
“What a cool experience, to come here and just to get a chance to experience it, because many of them have not been here. This is golf, and it's what you dream about.”