Following a second consecutive 76 at Champions Retreat Golf Club, ETSU senior Hee Ying Loy (Johor, Malaysia) concluded elimination day at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 51st-place, 21 spots out of a qualifying position for Saturday’s final round at Augusta National Golf Club.
“It was disappointing today,” Loy said. “I started out well but had a couple of bad holes on the back nine.”
After shooting an opening round 76, Loy was two strokes out of a tie for 30th-place entering the day, the spot she needed to rise to in order to be included in the final day of competition as the ANWA moves from Champions Retreat to Augusta National. At the outset of her round, it appeared Loy had what it took to make the charge up the leaderboard she needed, paring the first six holes before finishing her first nine with a birdie to take a 5-over-par mark to the final nine of her second round.
Disaster struck, though, when Loy followed up two pars on her back nine with a bogey, double-bogey, and another bogey, making a push back to cut line contention nearly impossible as time grew short to do so. While Loy would finish her round with two birdies in her final four holes, it proved to be too late to threaten the number she needed, which ended up settling at 3-over-par with an 11-golfer tie for 21st-place. A playoff ensued to eliminate one golfer from the 11-way tie, leaving exactly 30 players for Saturday’s final round that will be televised on NBC.
At the top of the leaderboard heading to the final 18 holes of the groundbreaking event is defending NCAA individual champion and top-ranked amateur in the world Jennifer Kupcho of Wake Forest. Kupcho, who has led wire-to-wire to this point, endured two bogeys in her final five holes to take a one-stroke advantage over Mexico’s Maria Fassi, whose eagle on the par-five 14th sparked a 2-under-par 70 Thursday.
While Loy will not be playing in the final round at Augusta Saturday, all 72 invitees have the chance to play a practice round at the world’s most prestigious golf course Friday, an opportunity that still rouses Loy despite her disappointment with today’s result.
“Very excited to play Augusta National tomorrow,” Loy exclaimed. “I’m going to pretend it’s the final round of the event and see what I can shoot out there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
While Loy would’ve liked to have a chance at a championship Saturday, the Thursday elimination does give her a brief respite before the Bucs are back to work at the outset of next week, with The Brickyard Collegiate welcoming all of head coach Stefanie Shelton’s program for the third straight year Monday and Tuesday.