College golf notebook: Amateurs take over Augusta week before Masters

Chris Trotman/Augusta National

College golf notebook: Amateurs take over Augusta week before Masters

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College golf notebook: Amateurs take over Augusta week before Masters

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As golf’s biggest event of the year approaches, you can already start to hear the birds chirping at Amen Corner. The soothing music playing behind Jim Nantz’s famed “Hello friends” and “a tradition unlike any other” phrases.

While the Masters isn’t here yet, there’s plenty of action taking place this week in Augusta.

The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur began on Thursday as 72 of the best female amateurs in the world took to Champions Retreat for the first two rounds of play. Following an 11-player, two-hole playoff for 10 spots, the field was cut to 30. On Saturday, the remaining field will head to Augusta National Golf Club for the historic final round and Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho looks to claim a wire-to-wire victory.

But that’s not all.

Also on Saturday is the first round of the re-branded Augusta Haskins Award Invitational at Forest Hills Golf Club. The 41st edition of Augusta University’s home tournament will feature 15 teams, including five top 50 and two top 10 teams in Golfweek’s rankings.

“The Haskins Award has followed strong fields like Augusta’s since our early years in the 1970’s,” President of the Fred Haskins Commission Madden Hatcher Jr. said in a press release. “In fact, many of our past recipients have participated in and won this tournament. We are excited to partner with Augusta University as we look forward to witnessing the next generation of champions for years to come.”

The Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel is given each year to the best male collegiate golfer as voted on by NCAA Division I golfers, coaches and select golf media. Former Haskins Award winners have gone on to win 298 PGA Tour events, including 30 major titles.

This year’s field includes: Augusta, Air Force, No. 32 Arkansas, Georgia State, Houston, No. 24 Illinois, Mercer, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, No. 15 South Carolina, No. 8 Texas, UCF, USC Aiken, Virginia Tech, and No. 3 Wake Forest.

The tournament begins Saturday with a 36-hole shotgun start for the first two rounds and concludes Sunday, April 7 with the final 18 holes.

Golfweek takes a loop around the country to update you on all the latest news in the college game.

Men

South Carolina is putting together one of the nation’s most impressive spring seasons and will be among the favorites at the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational. The Gamecocks earned their second win of the season last week at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate, their fourth title in the last five seasons at the event. South Carolina shot 11-under par in the final round en route to a seven-shot victory. So far this spring, the Gamecocks have finished T4-1-3-1 and currently rank No. 14 (Golfweek) and No. 17 (Bushnell Coaches Poll) in the nation.

Rankings: Bushnell Coaches Poll | Individual player
Haskins Award Watch List: Who’s up for men’s player of the year?

While the Gamecocks are rising in the rankings, an unfortunate set of circumstances caused Southern Methodist to drop. The Mustangs were forced to take a loss to every team in the field at The Goodwin last weekend. SMU was unable to post a team score after Noah Goodwin suffered an injury in the first round and a player signed a wrong scorecard and was disqualified in the final round.

Women

Southern California earned its fifth win of the season at the Ping/ASU Invitational thanks to an impressive final round performance.

Meanwhile at Stanford, Andrea Lee tied the program record with her eighth career win for the Cardinal.

Rankings: WGCA Coaches Poll | Individual player
Annika Award Watch List: Who’s up for women’s player of the year?

And last but certainly not least, there’s a new No. 1 junior golfer in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Alexa Pano, come on down!

While Pano didn’t make the cut at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, the high school freshman has plenty to look forward to. Pano is a nine-time world champion who made her LPGA debut as a 13-year-old at last year’s Thornberry Creek Classic. Earlier this year she made her second Symetra Tour start at the inaugural SKYiGOLF Championship, where she was in contention into the final round.

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