A year in the making, the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur became a reality on Wednesday morning at Champions Retreat Golf Club. With a modest gallery surrounding the first tee—including Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley and former USGA president Diana Murphy among a handful of dignitaries present—Jennifer Kupcho did the honors of hitting the opening tee shot.
As her 9 a.m. tee time arrived, the reigning NCAA champion at Wake Forest and the No. 1 ranked female amateur didn’t seem to show any nerves, finding the fairway and getting what many consider the most anticipated new golf tournament in years underway.
Kupcho was asked about going down in history as the one to lead things off after she played her practice round on Tuesday.
“That’s kind of crazy to think about now,” she said. “Yeah, obviously I knew I was going off first, but I didn’t really think about the first tee shot, like of the group. I mean, it’s pretty exciting. It will be super cool to be able to say I did that.”
Kupcho was followed by Olivia Mehaffey, a member of the 2018 Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team, and Atthaya Thitikul of India. Neither of them seems overwhelmed by the moment either, both follow Kupcho in finding the fairway.
The 72 players in the field were coming off a high on Tuesday, as they attended a formal "Chairman's Dinner" at Augusta National Golf Club to welcome them to the event. Players drove down Magnolia Lane and got to walk through the Merchandise Pavilion where Augusta National Women's Amateur merchandise was front and center.
The opening two rounds of the tournament will be played Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat, with the low 30 players advancing to the final round, which will be contested at Augusta National on Saturday. So that all competitors can have the chance to play Augusta National, on Friday the entire field will get a practice round in at the historic course.