Women make history at Augusta

Three Furman golfers talk about the opportunity to play in the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur at the home course of the Masters.

Hewson, Srinivasan, Harford and Chen play in the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Every young boy who plays golf dreams of playing in the Masters at Augusta National.

Little girls now can have that same dream to play on the famous course.

Augusta National is hosting its first Women’s Amateur. The outstanding field will play two rounds of competition at Champions Retreat and after a cut will play the final round on the Masters course.

Even if the competitors do not make the cut they will have played a practice round at Augusta National and helped make history.

Clemson golfer Alice Hewson as a two time member of the GB&I Walker Cup team has experienced amateur golf at its highest level.

Hewson’s invitation went to her home in England and that created an opportunity to share the big event with her parents via Facetime.

“I knew if I kept my ranking within the boundary that I would get an invitation, but it still is exciting to have the opportunity to play at Augusta,” she said.

When the selection criteria was announced, three Furman golfers expected to be in the field.

Furman Junior Natalie Srinivasan was the SoCon individual champion as a freshman and is ranked 29th among women amateurs.

Natalie Srinivasan, Haylee Harford and recent grad Alice Chen will join Hewson giving Upstate golf fans four players to follow.

Each Furman golfer has a little different approach and different expectations for the event, but all three know they are part of history.

“I think this is going to do a lot for women’s golf and for young girls especially,” said Chen, who graduated from Furman last spring.

Harford, who opened her senior season with a win in the Lady Paladin, will be making her first trip of any kind to Augusta.

“I have never been to the Masters and I am sure it will take a moment to soak it all in,” she said. “But after that I will want to go out and play my best,” she said.

The tournament will include two rounds at Champions Retreat and the final round, after a cut, on Augusta National.

Furman senior Haylee Harford won a tournament this year and will play on the Palmer Cup team.

Srinivasan was the only Furman golfer to play the course before the official invitations were sent out.

As the winner of the AJGA event in Augusta four year ago, the Spartanburg native has experienced the course.

“I’ve been to the Masters a bunch and watched it on TV,” she said. “I think it will be important to stay in the moment and enjoy the opportunity,” added Srinivasan.

Each golfer will have family and friends in attendance to share the historical experience.

Hewson’s family will be in the States for the event as she completes her senior year at Clemson.

“This has been a transitional year for me. I hope to turn pro in August and this tournament could be a platform for potential sponsors to see me,” she said.

Chen will have family and friends cheering her on. She will also have her boyfriend as a caddy for what will likely be her final amateur tournament.

“I think it is going to be a special week. I am going into it with the mindset  of trying my hardest and giving myself a chance to be in the top-30 to play the final day at the National,” she said.

Alice Chen graduated last spring from Furman and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur will be here last amateur event.

Srinivasan will have her father as her caddy and is the most laid back of the four golfers going to Augusta.

“I just want to go out and play my best because it is an honor to be a part of the first event,” she said.

Harford will also have her dad on the bag in what she sees as almost a reward for all the support he has given her golf career.

“It is going to be cool to experience this with him after all he has done to help me. This is going to be a first for me for everything at Augusta. I want to play well, but I also want to soak everything up,” said Harford.

As a competitor in the first Women’s Amateur, Chen believes her play and that of the others is going to matter to girl golfers in the future.

“It is great for little girls to have big dreams. They can see this tournament and seriously believe one day they could grow up and be like them,” concluded Chen.

First Round Tee Times at Champions Retreat

Alice Chen 9 am  #10,  Natalie Srinivasan 10 am #1, Alice Hewson, 10:24 #1, Haylee Harford, 11 am #1.

Follow scoring at the event website http://www.anwagolf.com


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