Some Augusta National Women's Amateur players to switch to Augusta National caddies
It won’t be known until later Friday, but some players – possibily even leader Jennifer Kupcho – will be switching to Augusta National caddies when the Augusta National Women’s Amateur shifts on Saturday to the home of the Masters Tournament for the final round.
Twenty-six of the 72 players who competed in the first 36 holes of the inaugural event at Champions Retreat Golf Club used Augusta National caddies.
The top 30 after Thursday’s second round advanced to Saturday’s final round, which is preceded by a practice round Friday at Augusta National.
“They (the Augusta National) think people that make the cut, there is a good chance they’re going to take an Augusta National caddie,” said Gray Moore, an Augusta National caddie who helped Stanford’s Andrea Lee shoot 73-74 and then survive an 11-player sudden-death playoff for 10 spots. “We’ll see Saturday. We’ve got people ready to go.”
Moore is a former Augusta National caddymaster who has “retired,” he said, to being just a regular caddie at the course, where he has worked since 1996.
Kupcho, who leads by one shot after rounds of 68-71, used her father Mike as her caddie at Champions Retreat. All the players in Friday’s practice round at Augusta National must use Augusta National caddies, though their other caddie can walk with them. Then they can decide who they want on the bag for Saturday.
Kupcho has talked to the caddie she had the last time she played at Augusta National and will use him Friday and then make her decision, she said.
“Certainly, somebody who works every day over there can give them some help compared to people who do not. That’s as simple as a I can put it,” Moore said. “Over here (Champions Retreat), we’re no better than anybody else. I know the course marginally at best. If I give a read here, it’s an educated guess. Over there, I know.”
Another Augusta National caddie who will be working Saturday is Chris Beckner, who is in his 19th year of caddying at Augusta National and also has caddied for two victories on the Web.com Tour and one on the PGA Tour.
Beckner helped Italy’s Catherina Don, a University of Georgia signee, to rounds of 73-71 and a tie for 11th place through the two rounds at Champions Retreat.
“I would say if I was playing in the tournament, I would want some local knowledge,” Beckner said “But how are you going to take away from someone’s dad getting the opportunity of a lifetime? So I see it both ways. I would 100 percent take someone from there. I really would want someone from Augusta National.”
Don said having Beckner on the bag “is going to be a big help for me in the last round.”
YOUTH SERVED: Two of the five youngest players in the field will be teeing it up at Augusta National on Saturday, and both are in the top 10 after 36 holes.
First-round co-leader Zoe Campos, 16, followed her opening 68 with 75 and is in seventh place at 143. And 15-year-old Rose Zhang is tied for eighth place after rounds of 72-72-144.
Missing a playoff for the final spot by one shot was 14-year-old Alexa Pano (77-71-148) and 16-year-old Atthaya Thitikul (79-69). Annabell Fuller, also 16, was tied for 21st after an opening 73, but shot 77 in the second round for 150.
TIGER TIME: Clemson senior Alice Hewson put together a 3-under-par 69 in the second round and bolted into the top 30 to secure a spot in Saturday’s final round at Augusta National.
Hewson was tied for 40th place after an opening 76 but put together a five-birdie, two-bogey round and moved to a tie for 11th place at 1-over-par 145.
Hewson, who is from Berkhamsted, England, is the first Tiger in school history to make the All-ACC team three times.