EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – Participants in the this year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur arrived at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans on Monday to begin preparation for the third annual event.

The tournament features 72 of the world’s top amateur golfers, and 39 of the top 40, the lone exception being defending champion Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan.

Once again, Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans will play host to the first two rounds Wednesday and Thursday on the only golf course co-designed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

“I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to play these awesome golf courses,” Julia Johnson, 22, a fifth-year player at Ole Miss appearing her second ANWA, said prior to her first appearance. “It’s the experience of a lifetime.”

The field is headlined by top-ranked Rose Zhang, now a freshman at Stanford. She’s making her third ANWA appearance and finished tied for third last year.

“With these opportunities, I’m sure later on I will be able to have even more, I think it’s great the game is growing,” Zhang said at last summer’s U.S. Women’s Open. “Everyone’s being more immersed into watching women’s golf. So it’s pretty amazing so far.”

Zhang will be joined by 2nd-ranked Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden, a junior at LSU, and 3rd-ranked Rachel Heck, a sophomore at Stanford, both of whom finished tied for third a year ago. 

“Growing up as a girl, you couldn’t really dream about playing Augusta, because you know, you don’t think that’s possible,” Heck said.

On Friday the scene shifts to Augusta National, where the entire field will play a practice round before the top 36 play in Saturday’s final round, in which there has been drama each time this tournament has been played.

Jennifer Kupcho defeated Maria Fassi in the inaugural event on a memorable Saturday in 2019, then Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani outlasted Emilia Migliaccio in a playoff one year ago. Migliaccio is back for another shot this year.

“Just thank you to Augusta National for really just promoting women’s golf in the best way they can,” Migliacchio said after last year’s final round. “It’s just such a dream for all of us to be out here.”

WJBF will provide team coverage of this year’s tournament beginning with Tuesday’s practice round at Champions Retreat.