Amari Avery of USC and Brianna Chacon of Oregon and Whittier were on the list of the initial golfers invited to play in the Fourth Annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur at famed Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, in Augusta, Ga.
Top-ranked college Rose Zhang of Stanford also could be in the field after tying for 12th despite a broken toe last year, as long as she does not turn pro.
Avery (pictured with her invitation), a sophomore from Riverside who is No. 6 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings and was named an All-American as a freshman, captured the 2022 NCAA Women’s West Regional, one of her four victories last year.
“Honestly, I would say I never saw it coming,” Avery told Golf Channel after being selected to the Augusta tournament last year, when she tied for fourth. “This (tournament) has only been around for four years, so obviously this wasn’t like a dream of mine or anything. But this is a huge event. It’s probably the biggest amateur event in women’s golf, I would say.”
USC Women’s Golf took to Twitter this time to make the announcement, writing: “@anwagolf with the exciting news, Amari Avery is invited to the prestigious tournament for the third time! She tied for fourth last year, can’t wait for this year’s event. #FightOn.”
Chacon, a senior for the Ducks, won the 2022 NCAA Women’s Southwest Amateur at Albuquerque, N.M., becoming the first player in Oregon history to claim an NCAA Regional title, and was selected second team All-American.
Chacon’s Oregon teammate Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu, a junior from Taiwan, also was selected to play at Augusta.
Oregon Women’s Golf said on Twitter: “Heading back to Augusta. Congratulations to @briiichacon and Hsin-Yu (Cynthia) Lu on being invited to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur for the second year in a row! #GoDucks.”
Others on the early invitation list include Duke teammates Erica Shepherd, Phoebe Brinker and Anne Chen; Charlotte Heath, Amelia Williamson and Lottie Woad of Florida State; Amanda Sambach, Jennifer Cleary and Beth Lillie of Virginia; Jennie Park of Texas A&M, Maisie Filler of Florida, Julia Lopez Ramirez of Mississippi State and Gianna Clemente of Warren, Ohio.
Clemente is a 14-year-old high school freshman who has won more than 130 times in her junior career, including four world championship events, and is the top-ranked girls amateur in the United States.
“I’m so excited to be invited to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this year,” said Park, who is eighth in the Golfweek/Sagarin Collegiate Women’s Rankings. “This was one of my biggest goals starting my senior year. It took a lot of patience and hard work to get to where I am today in my golf career and this invite is one of my biggest achievements.
“I can’t wait to go and compete with the best amateurs around the world and have an experience of a lifetime.”
The rest of the 72-player field will be selected from the Women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings, while a handful of exemptions and special invitations will round out the field.
The fourth Augusta Women’s Amateur will be played March 29 and 30 at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta, and the entire field will play Augusta National for an official practice round on March 31.
The final round will take place at Augusta National on April 1 with only players who made the cut.
The champion will receive exceptions into three majors–the U.S. Women’s Open, the AIG Women’s Open and for the first time, the Chevron Championship.
Previous winners include Anna Davis of Spring Valley, who claimed the title last year, Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan in 2021 and Jennifer Kupcho in 2019. The tournament was cancelled in 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic.