Amanda Doherty thought she had missed her opportunity to play in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur by three lousy spots. The top 30 players from the United State at the end of 2018 received an automatic exemption. And she was No. 33.
Doherty kept her fingers crossed in the unlikely event some of those in front of her would drop out of line, but admitted, “It would be crazy to turn down something like this.”
Then came a phone call from a tournament official asking if she was available. Turns out that three women in front of her were not going to play – two couldn’t make it and one was turning professional. There was no need for Doherty to pause and check her calendar. She was in.
“I was so excited,” she said. “When I got the phone call, my jaw almost hit the floor in shock. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
The official invitation arrived a few days later. “Very fancy. Really cool,” she said. Her father, Mike, is already making plans to have it framed.
Doherty grew up in Atlanta and is currently the only Georgian in the 72-player event. She watches the Masters each year and was able to attend the final round in 2010 when Phil Mickelson won. She is very eager to see the place from between the ropes.
“It was an amazing experience to watch the Masters on Sunday. Now just getting to play there…,” she said. “It’s an amazing field, so it will be a great tournament. It’s always awesome to play against a great field like that and test yourself against the best.”
The tournament will be played April 3-6. Competitors will play 36 holes at the Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta on Wednesday and Thursday before being cut to the low 30 players. All invitees will enjoy a practice round at Augusta National on Friday and those who made the cut will play the final round on Saturday.
The impact of the event is already being felt. All the tickets have been sold. And Instagram is flooded with photos of women posing with their invitations. The tournament is doing what it had hoped – stir up interest in amateur women’s golf.
“I think it’s going to be huge for women’s golf,” Doherty said. “I think people will see that women’s amateur golf is good and it will put us on the map.”
Doherty, 21, is a junior at Florida State, where she has started since her freshman season is coming off an eventful 2017-18 season. As a sophomore she was second in two events, finished among the top five at the ACC Championships and NCAA Regional, and her 72.09 stroke average was the fourth-best in school history. She was All-ACC and honorable mention All-America.
This fall she finished in the top 20 in three of four events and last week won the Women’s South Atlantic Amateur.
Doherty graduated from Atlanta’s Galloway School, and plays out of the Country Club of Roswell, where she works with PGA professional Lisa Chirichetti.