Australia’s top-ranked amateur golfer Kirsten Rudgeley has been invited to play in this year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which will be staged from March 30 to April 2.
Rudgeley, who is ranked 45th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, received a phone call from the tournament director last Tuesday morning before the opening round of her Avondale Amateur victory and said she was “over the moon” to hear the good news.
“When I got the phone call, I was like ‘Yes! I’ve made it!’” recalled Rudgeley, who will receive a formal invitation in the mail in the coming days, with excitement.
The chance to drive down Magnolia Lane, to explore the historic clubhouse and to grace the pristine fairways and greens has been on the 20-year-old’s radar for some time. Her stellar 2021 – which included amateur victories in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and a Major championship debut at the AIG Women’s Open – ensured that she would be on the cusp of an invitation.
“From a couple of months ago, I had an idea that I was going to be playing, but I wasn’t quite sure,” she said. “I just kept working on my WAGR and trying to get it as low as possible because that’s what they go off. They don’t go off anything else.
“I managed to get it down to like 52 at the time – that was like a month ago – and there were girls above me like Kimmy (Grace Kim) who were still on the list [that have since turned professional]. So I was like, ‘I’ve got a good chance because they’re not going to be playing in it.’”
Despite having Augusta National as a motivator in the back of her mind, the West Australian admitted she has never been one to spend late nights or early mornings watching the likes of Tiger Woods and Adam Scott do their thing at the Masters. However, over the years there has been one member of the Rudgeley household glued to every shot.
“It’s very special for Dad. It’s his dream to go there,” Rudgeley said. “We’re both super excited and I can’t wait to get over there and play it.
“Playing there is the most prestigious thing the men can do, so it’ll be pretty cool because I’m pretty sure we get all the same treatment that they do.”
Rudgeley becomes the third Australian – after Julienne Soo (2019) and Grace Kim (2021) – to take part in the tournament, which began in 2019. At the recent Australian WPGA Championship, she took the opportunity to ask Kim all about it.
“I was talking to Kimmy last week at the WPGA and she said it was such an awesome experience,” Rudgeley said.
One topic that came up in their conversation was Kim’s attempt at skimming the golf ball across the pond at the famous par-3 16th that hit the pin and Rudgeley trying to better it.
“I’ll give it a go,” she said with a laugh.
The tournament takes place the week before the Masters and features 72 of the best women’s amateurs golfers in the world competing over 54 holes of strokeplay. The opening two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club before the 30 players that make the cut move to Augusta National for a practice round and the final round.