EVANS, Ga. — If Kaitlyn Papp makes it to the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this week, she might have a leg up on the rest of the field.
Papp is one of 72 amateurs competing in the inaugural event. The first two rounds are Wednesday and Thursday at Champions Retreat Golf Club, then the stage shifts to Augusta National Golf Club for Friday’s practice round and Saturday’s final round.
Only the low 30 will compete in the finale, but Papp has already tested her game on the big course — and won. During a scouting trip about a month ago to the home of the Masters tournament, she shot 3-under-par 69.
“My mom’s second cousin is a caddie out there and he was able to loop for me,” Papp said Tuesday. “It was a really fun day to share it with him.”
Papp isn’t the only Longhorn in the field this week. She’s joined by her Texas teammates Emilee Hoffman and Agathe Laisne. The three played a practice round Tuesday morning at Champions Retreat.
“We were able to learn a lot about the golf course,” she said. “I feel like it requires very good lag putting, especially the greens are pretty hilly. It requires every part of your game.”
Papp, 20, has shown plenty of game in her career. As a freshman, she posted two victories, eight additional top-10 finishes and became the first player in school history to win both Big 12 freshman of the year and player of the year honors in the same season.
She hasn’t won this season, but she had three top 10s in the fall, including runner-up at the Betsy Rawls Invitational.
“I had a good fall. I had a little slower start in the spring but played well in my last tournament and feel better about my game,” she said. “Overall, I think it’s been a pretty good season.”
Papp will have her father, Tony, serve as her caddie this week. She also has her mother, sister and plenty of other family coming in for the week.
After a yearlong wait from when the tournament was announced, Papp is ready to finally play in the event. She thinks it will make a difference in helping recruit more girls and young women to the sport.
“It’s fantastic because golf is a male-dominated sport and for women to have the opportunity to play not only in a prestigious championship, but to play it at Augusta National, I think is just amazing,” Papp said.
She still remembers the feeling she got when she found out her invitation had arrived at her Austin home.
“It was great, best letter I’ve ever received,” she said. “I was at the golf course when it came in and my sister called me and said ‘Your letter’s here.’ I told her to wait for me to come home and open it. So it was really special.”
Augusta women’s amateur
Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Wednesday-Saturday, Augusta, Ga.
Wednesday: Round 1, Champions Retreat Golf Club
Thursday: Round 2, Champions Retreat Golf Club
Saturday: Final, Augusta National Golf Club (NBC, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.)