Kupcho, Campos lead Augusta Women's Amateur

Kupcho, Campos lead Augusta Women's Amateur

Kupcho, Campos lead Augusta Women's Amateur

The inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur is officially underway. After two rounds, the 72-player field will be cut to the top 30 players, who will compete in the championship final round at prestigious Augusta National.

Following Thursday's second round, the field of 72 is cut to 30 players. There will be no media or fans, but each player can bring a caddie and a walking guest of their choice.

Kupcho, who was accorded the honour of hitting the first shot in the history of the championship, compiled a bogey-free round of four-under-par at Champions Retreat Golf Club. "It's insane that they are actually letting us play the course".

Campos birdied the last tie for the lead and said she was pleased with the chance to see where her game stacks up "at the highest amateur level".

Kupcho overcame some nerves to share the lead. Leaving the first tee with Jessica Yuen and Alice Hewson as the eighth group to go off on the front-nine, Loy opened her day with a par on the 385-yard par-four first hole that saw just four birdies all day.

"On the last, he told me, 'Just finish strong.' I hit three good shots and was 15 feet from the hole and he gave me a great read", said the 20-year-old from Kyalami.

Thursday, on the other side of the country, the women's first professional major of the season - the ANA Inspiration - kicks off at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"It's a lot of social skills", she said. "So probably the first ideal round I've played".

"I don't know if you have to have a women's Masters, but I'd like to pipe dream and think that would be the ultimate end-point". I was disappointed when the first list came out because I missed it narrowly. "Maybe down the road we'll have a professional women's event at Augusta".

The pessimistic view is that the Augusta amateur tournament steals eyeballs from the already limited number of sports fans who will attend or tune into watch the ANA Inspiration. Four of the top 11 amateurs made a decision to skip the chance to play at Augusta National in order to accept an exemption into the ANA.

"Things at Augusta don't happen very rapidly", said Kay Cockerill, a two-time US Women's Amateur champion who will also be part of NBC's coverage team. "They shouldn't have to".

The tournament, being held Wednesday through Saturday, one week before the famed Masters PGA tournament, is the first women's tournament ever to be played on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. "Some guys are going to want to maybe make a trip up to Augusta in the weeks prior, stay home, practice, work with coaches, get ready that way".

Alexa Pano, aged 14 is the youngest player in the championship.

The event will conclude at the famous course just a week before the Masters.

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