Kajitani Wins ANWA on 1st Hole of Playoff
April 4, 2021
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The leaderboard at the Augusta National Women's Amateur looked like a freeway interchange on Saturday, as players came racing into view, were visible at the top for a brief time, and then disappeared into the distance. In the end, Tsubassa Kajitani, the youngest of the 30 players who made the 36-hole cut on Thursday, was holding the trophy.
She played the eighth through 15th holes at the iconic Augusta National course in 3 under par to take the lead, then gave two shots back when she made a double bogey at the 370-yard, par-4 17th. Recovering her composure, she parred the 18th to post an even-par 72 and a 54-hole total of 217 (1 over). That got her into a playoff with Emilia Migliaccio. The sudden death playoff began at the 18th (385 yards, par 4), and when she made another par there, Kajitani was the champion.
The 17-year-old from Japan, is currently No. 26 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. That will change when the new rankings come out on Wednesday
Migliacco, 21, a senior at Wake Forest, is already a published author, and she has no plans to play golf as a professional, even though she's No. 15 in the WAGR and has been as high as No. 3. Instead, she will work for the Golf Channel as an intern this summer and then go to work on a Masters degree in communication at North Carolina State. But on Saturday, she outplayed a lot of future pros, making five birdies and three bogeys while shooting 70 on her way to 217.
In the playoff, things didn't go too well for her. Both she and Kajitani hit the fairway with their drives. Migliaccio hit her second shot first and flared it to the right, ending up a couple of feet to the right of the green side bunker. It was reminiscent of the shot that Greg Norman blocked into the gallery wide of the bunker in 1986, which resulted in a bogey that kept him out of a playoff with Jack Nicklaus. Migliaccio compounded her problem by dumping her fourth shot into the bunker and wound up making a bogey.
Kajitani pushed her second shot on the 18th, too. But she caught the edge of the green and made an impressive two-putt from 40 feet for her par.
Migliaccio wasn't No. 18's only victim on Saturday. Rachel Heck and Emma Spitz both came to the 18th in position to make the playoff, at 1 over, but they both bogeyed it and had to settle for a six-way tie for third place, along with the 36-hole co-leaders, Rose Zhang and Ingrid Lindblad, and two others -- Pauline Roussin-Bouchard and Karen Fredgaard. In fact, Spitz was she bogeyed both the 17th and 18th holes.
Zhang, another 17-year-old, is No. 1 in the WAGR. She won the U.S. Women's Amateur last summer, and she seemed headed for victory at Augusta on Saturday for much of the round. Having started the day at 1 under, she birdied the third hole to get to minus 2 and was still there after eight holes. She bogeyed the ninth, but was still 1 under and in the lead.
But she hooked her tee shot at the 455-yard, par-5 13th. It might have gone into the water. It might have gone into the trees. No one saw it; so the ball was deemed to be lost, and Zhang had to re-tee. That was her third stroke on the hole, and it found the fairway, 225 yards from the pin. She needed 202 yards to clear the creek in front of the green, but the ball went into the water, and by the time she putted out, she had made a triple-bogey 8.
Zhang birdied the par-4 14th and could have made the playoff by parring in from there, but she bogeyed the 17th.
Up ahead of Zhang, Fredgaard had gotten to minus 1 with a birdie at the 13th. But she followed it with bogeys and the 14th and 15th, thereby surrendering the lead to Kajitani. When Kajitani doubled No. 17, Fredgaard was tied at the top, once again, at plus 1 -- but she bogeyed the 18th and dropped back into the mass tie for third.
The best score of the day was a 69 by Maja Stark. She had barely qualified to play Saturday, having shot 78-73--151 in the first two rounds on Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat. That put her in a playoff with four others for 30th place, the last spot inside the cut. She won the playoff by making an 18-foot putt for birdie on the first extra hole (No. 10).
On Saturday, she made three bogeys but had six birdies, including the only birdie of the day at No. 18.
One of the players Stark eliminated with her birdie in the playoff on Thursday was Kate Smith, the former five-time Minnesota state high school champion from Detroit Lakes. Smith, who is now a fifth-year senior at Nebraska, fell into the playoff (at 151) with a second-round 79. She actually had the nearie in the playoff, hitting her second shot to 12 feet, but couldn't convert the birdie putt.
WOMEN'S AMATEUR GOLF
Augusta National Women's Amateur
At Champions Retreat (first two rounds, Wednesday and Thursday)
Augusta National (final round on Saturday)
1. Tsubasa Kajitani, Japan 73-72-77--217* (won playoff with par on 1st extra hole -- No. 18 at Augusta National)
2. Emilia Migilaccio, USA 73-74-70--217
T3. Rose Zhang, USA 71-72-75--218
T3. Ingrid Lindblad, Sweden 73-70-75--218
T3. Karen Fredgaard, Denmak 70-75-73--218
T3. Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, France 75-73-70--218
T3. Rachel Heck, USA 73-73-72--218
T3. Emma Spitz, Austria 73-74-71--218
T9. Olivia Mehaffey, No. Ireland 75-69-75--219
T10. Maja Stark, Sweden 78-73-69--220
T10. Beatrice Wallin, Sweden 75-73-72--220
T30. Kate Smith, USA 72-79--151* (lost 5-person playoff to Stark, who birdied the first extra hole, No. 10 at Champions Retreat)