The creation of an elite women’s amateur tournament was the big reveal during Fred Ridley’s first formal press conference as Augusta National chairman this past April. Less than seven months ahead of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019, some specifics of the new 54-hole event have emerged after the club issued a formal release on Wednesday morning.
Most notable, perhaps, is that NBC Sports will air the final round on Saturday, April 6. The network will provide three hours of live coverage (noon to 3 p.m. eastern) when the field finishes play at Augusta National in the days ahead of the Masters Tournament, which is broadcast on ESPN and CBS.
Some details on the event’s structure also were filled in. The 72-player field will compete in the first two rounds on April 3 and 4 (Wednesday and Thursday prior to the Masters) at Champions Retreat Golf Club in nearby Evans, Ga., using the Island and Bluff nines. Everyone in the field will then play an official practice round at Augusta National on April 5 (Friday). However, when the final round is contested on that Saturday, only the top 30 players and ties will compete at ANGC.
When Ridley announced plans to hold the tournament, he expressed the hope that it could provide inspiration to girls and young women taking interest in golf to continue their development within the game.
“I thought that this was the right time to do this,” Ridley said in April. “It was the right time for the women’s game. I thought for us to have the greatest impact on women’s golf that we needed to be committed to do it here at Augusta National.”
He reiterated this mission on Wednesday. “Since the announcement of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April, we have remained determined to organize a competition that will provide a meaningful impact on the development of the women’s game,” Ridley said in a release. “While we aim to stage a first-class championship, our motivation goes beyond the scores posted between the ropes. By providing this opportunity and shining a brighter light on this important segment of the sport, we expect role models to emerge who will help inspire a new generation of golfers.”
Qualifications for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur include automatic invitations to the winners of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur (Kristen Gillman), the Ladies’ British Open Amateur (Leonie Harm), Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (Atthaya Thitikul), U.S. Girls’ Junior and Girls Junior PGA (Yealimi Noh) and the Girls’ British Open Amateur (Emma Spitz). The World Amateur Golf Ranking will be used to fill the next 60 spots, with the 30 top players from the U.S. not otherwise qualified taken and then the next 30 highest ranked players chosen based off the final list for 2018. The ANWA Championship Committee will fill the remaining spots via special invitations.
The winner of the inaugural ANWA event will be invited to the next five Augusta National Women’s Amateurs, provided she stays an amateur, as well as the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2019 Women’s British Open and any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur championships for which she is eligible for one year.
Beyond broadcasting the final round, NBC Sports will provide pre-event promotion across NBCUniversal’s various platforms. Golf Channel, which broadcasts the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals held at Augusta National the Sunday prior to Masters week, will show highlights and live reports during the first two rounds. Golf Channel’s “Live From The Masters” programs also will begin airing on April 5 from the course and continue through the final round of the ANWA and the DCP.
In addition, the club announced five presenting partners for the new tournament: AT&T, Bank of America, IBM, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex.
Ticket applications are now available for the ANWA at www.ANWAgolf.com.