PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club



ANWA

Augusta National Women's Amateur ends with an all-time finish and newly-crowned star

April 06, 2024
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Lottie Woad reacts to making birdie on the 17th hole during her victory in the 2024 Augusta National Women's Amateur.

Maddie Meyer

AUGUSTA, Ga. — She’s a stoic soul, Lottie Woad, someone who takes pride in staying cool no matter the temperature, but she could not conceal her frustration walking off the 13th hole. Her four-shot lead had turned into a two-shot deficit, and the game that looked so easy to her through the first two days of this tournament was suddenly turning foe. Woad was discovering what many who have competed on this course have learned: Augusta National’s beauty disguises its penchant for turning things ugly.

But instead of fighting herself, Woad fought back, and delivered the type of charge Augusta enchantingly promises to those inside the ropes and out. A comeback that showed what Woad is made of, and where she may ultimately go. You’ll have to forgive Woad for allowing a small fist pump and a sigh of relief when her ball disappeared for the final time Saturday. Given the passion it took to get from there to here, this was no time for stoicism.

Woad punctuated a comeback from a stumble with three birdies over the last four holes—including a converted 15-footer at the 18th—to capture the 2024 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“I was honestly just thinking about making birdie rather than par,” Woad said of her finish on 18 after a final-round 69. “I knew I needed par for the playoff, but the pin was such a nice pin that I knew I could use that backstop a little bit. I'm not sure the shot used it in the end. Then that putt, I feel like it was probably going past, but I was just being sure I didn't three-putt it either with it being so quick. It was a bit of a double-breaker, and luckily it broke back right at the end.”

Woad, a 20-year-old Englishwoman, entered the week as one of the ANWA favorites. A former R&A Girls’ Amateur champ, she is No. 4 in the Women’s World Amateur Ranking, earned first-team All-American honors at Florida State last year as a freshman, and was coming off a 13th-place finish in her ANWA debut lin 2023. Through two days at Champions Retreat she proved her game remains on the ascent, authoring a 68 on Wednesday and a 71 in tough Thursday conditions to take a two-shot lead into third and final ANWA round. A par-birdie start on Saturday against playing partner Gianna Clemente’s rough opening provided more breathing room, and World No. 1 Ingrid Lindblad was playing well but not making a charge. When Woad navigated past the difficult par-4 fifth without incident the question wasn't if she would win but by how many.

Then a marvelous thing happened. (Well, at least for those watching the event; Woad, not so much.) Bailey Shoemaker missed the memo about Woad’s coronation. Or maybe she decided to use this royal platform to introduce herself to a new audience. Shoemaker, a freshman out of the University of Southern California, birdied the first two holes and added another red number at the fifth, making the turn in 33. More birdies came at the 11th and 13, and after she cleaned up the remaining three feet on the tee shot at the par-3 16th, Shoemaker, who began the round almost an hour before Woad, was now on top. She finished with back-to-back pars for a 66, the lowest final-round score in ANWA history. That she did it in an rye emerald cap—the same shade of green in those jackets associated with this place—seemed fitting.

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Bailey Shoemaker plays her tee shot on the 13th hole during the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur.

David Cannon

“I just knew if I made the cut, I'd be in good position,” Shoemaker said. “It's the day at Augusta, you're playing the final round in a tournament. It's just an amazing opportunity. Just an awesome experience. I was excited to play today. I said that to everybody I talked to. I was just excited to get out and play. Not keeping too much in mind, just wanted to go out and have fun more than anything.”

Behind her, Woad was somewhat stuck in neutral, unable to match Shoemaker’s birdie binge, followed by Woad making a mess of the 13, the easiest hole on the course. It could have been worse; her birdie putt from the top of the green was coming in with so much heat Woad admitted she thought it would go into the creek.

It’s fair to wonder what Woad was thinking when she walked off the 14th tee, both aware of the deficit and that it might grow after her drive clipped a tree and left her with 215 yards for her second. That’s why what happened next was the catalyst of what was to come. Knowing she had no chance to keep her approach on the green from that distance—and knowing, she later said, that a bogey meant she “was out of it”—Woad banged a hybrid past the pin and got up-and-down for par.

“I knew teeing off, only having a two-shot lead, at some point during the round someone was probably going to overtake me with it probably being scorable,” Woad said. “Because I looked at the pins before and they were in some pretty nice locations, so I was prepared for someone to go low. When I ended up being two back, I was like, OK, so I've got these birdie chances that they have. Just gave myself the chances at the end and luckily holed some putts.”

For posterity, those birdies came off of 100-yard wedge shots at the par-5 15th and demanding par-4 17th, while the 18th was set up with a 9-iron from just over 120 yards out. And because those shots ended with one-putts—all of which conjured roars that bounced and echoed off the loblolly pines—Woad joined the ranks of ANWA champions Jennifer Kupcho, Tsubasa Kajitani, Anna Davis and Rose Zhang. She will get exemptions into the Chevron Championship, U.S. Women’s Open, Amundi Evian Championship and AIG Women’s Open. The clock now seems to be ticking on when the (a) will no longer be next to her name.

While that’s all well and good, the joy was in the pursuit. When her chances seemed to be at her lowest, that’s when Woad felt in control. It's why she plays this ridiculous game, she said; for moments like this.

"If I'd been told before this week that I'd be two back with four to play, I would have been like, ‘Yeah, perfect, that sounds great,” Woad said. “To be in the mix on the back nine at Augusta is something that everyone dreams about. So I was trying to really embrace it. I didn't really have anything to lose at that point. Think I was in second, but I couldn't really drop too much. I had a couple of shots in there. It was really just ‘Go for it.’”

She did, and in the process provided more evidence that this fledgling event continues to both complement and redefine the magic of Augusta National. That’s why afterwards she had no appetite to address professional aspirations or what comes next. "I don't know. I'm probably not going to be thinking about that just yet," Woad said. "Just going to keep trying to get better and play well and see what happens really." With that, the stoic soul waded into a sea of hugs and high-fives from family and friends. Lottie Woad had just done something that will last forever, and she wanted to enjoy it while it lasts.