This year at the 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, there’s a unique group that’s just as exclusive as the event’s namesake.
Meet the ANWA four-timers club.
Of the 72 players in the field for the biggest women’s amateur event on the golf schedule, three have competed in the three previous events: Emilia Migliaccio, Erica Shepherd and Rose Zhang.
“I didn’t really think about it until at the Founders Dinner, they announced it,” said Shepherd, a senior at Duke who is playing her final ANWA this week. “Me, Rose and Emilia, and putting my name up with those two incredible amateurs made me realize that that’s pretty dang good, so it means the world, and just to make the cut and be here and to have been a part of the first one and see how it’s evolved over the past few years has been awesome.”
Shepherd is the only other two-time USGA champion in the field this week alongside Zhang and will have a special pairing for Saturday’s final round at Augusta National.
ANWA four-timers club results
“I got paired from Emilia for tomorrow, and ever since junior golf she’s always — she’s two years older than me, so I always called her my mom in junior golf,” said Shepherd with a laugh. “So just to have someone like that that I’m super close to and get to play Augusta National with competitively, that’s just going to be — I can’t imagine how special it’s going to be.”
“I’m so excited to play tomorrow. Words can’t describe it,” added Migliaccio, a fifth year at Wake Forest who will continue her work for Golf Channel by helping to announce the Drive, Chip and Putt event on Sunday at Augusta National. “I’m just going to really try to — I hope it’s the longest round of my life so I can just treasure it as much as possible.”
Despite the highlight All-ACC pairing, all eyes on Saturday will be fixated on Zhang, the world No. 1 who enters the final round with a commanding five-shot lead.
After winning the U.S. Girls’ Junior, U.S. Women’s Amateur and NCAA individual national championship, the ANWA is the final event left for Zhang to conquer in her accolade-laden amateur career.
“That would be incredible. I still haven’t thought about that yet, despite everything that’s going on right now,” said Zhang of what the win would mean to her as one of the trio of four-timers. “But I’m super thankful for this opportunity. I’ll take whatever opportunity I can get to be able to have a chance and look at that trophy tomorrow.
“I’m really humbled to be at this level with so many great players, but the job is not done yet.”
Humble as always, which can’t be easy when you’ve won as much as Zhang has over the years. The star sophomore tied the program mark for wins in a career earlier this year and has five victories in six college starts for the Cardinal. This week, she set and then broke her own record for 18-hole tournament scores with a 6-under 66 on Wednesday and a 7-under 65 on Thursday at Champions Retreat, the host course for the first two rounds of the 54-hole event.
All three players take immense pride in their status at Augusta National and have seen how the annual spring event has grown year-to-year.
“Going forward I would just hope that everyone understands how awesome of an opportunity it is for us just to be able to have the chance to grow the game the way that we have been and just be able to give back to the game,” explained Shepherd. “It’s awesome, and just seeing all the little girls out here and inspiring them, I think it’s just going to go such a long way.”