AUGUSTA, Ga. – The drive down Magnolia Lane at the Augusta National Golf Club is enough to leave one speechless. The opportunity to play even a single round on Augusta’s famed greens and fairways is a mere dream for most golfers.
For Florida State’s Charlotte Heath, Amelia Williamson and Lottie Woad, they may be unable to speak if just momentarily, and their wildest golf dreams will come true as they play in the fifth Annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur beginning Wednesday. The three Seminoles are among the world’s top amateur players in the incredibly talented group of 72 who will vie to have their name etched on the champions silver trophy.
The first 36 holes of the ANWA will be contested over two days at Champions Retreat Golf Club (March 29-30). Following the 36-hole cut, the final competitive round will take place at Augusta National Golf Club on April 1.
“Playing at Augusta is like a Seminole football player running out of the tunnel at Doak Campbell Stadium, or a major league baseball player walking up to bat at Wrigley Field,” said Seminole assistant coach Robert Duck, who will caddy for Florida State’s Heath. “Walking where so many of the greats of the game have walked is special for any athlete. Watching a young lady achieve a special moment in their development is gratifying for any coach, being able to caddy and be part of that moment is even more special.”
Florida State’s nationally ranked program has been represented in each of the first four ANWA’s with a program-record three Seminoles playing this year. All-American Beatrice Wallin (2019, 2021, 2022) is the only player in the tournament’s history to earn three top-10 finishes (tied for fourth in 2022; tied for seventh in 2019, and tied for 10th in 2021) while All-American Amanda Doherty finished tied for 21st in her only appearance in 2019.
It has been the greatest of pleasures during her coaching career for Seminole Head Coach Amy Bond to watch her players compete in the ANWA.
“For women’s golf, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur is one of the best weeks of the year,” said Bond, the winningest coach in Florida State history. “The women have the opportunity to show off their skills on National TV, and to play the iconic course at Augusta National. This year we have three Seminoles who received invitations. I am so excited to get the chance to watch them.”
Bond has built one of the nation’s strongest programs at Florida State. In the last three seasons, her Seminoles have been ranked No. 1 in the nation, won two NCAA Regional Championships, achieved the best NCAA finish in school history, won eight tournament championships, had four different players named All-American honors and three earn All-ACC honors.
The Seminoles are one of just six schools nationally — and are joined by Stanford, Duke, LSU, Ole Miss and Wake Forest — with three or more golfers playing at Augusta this week.
For Bond, this week is about the opportunity and incredible experiences her golfers have earned.
“It’s such a special experience and something that many of us would turn back the clock to have this opportunity.”
All three of Florida State’s participants in the ANWA are ranked among the top 52 women in the World Amateur Golf Rankings entering the championship – Heath at No. 19, Woad at No. 24, and Williamson at No. 52. Among college golfers, Heath is ranked No. 7, Woad is No. 9 and Williamson is No. 121. The Seminoles are the only team in the nation with two golfers ranked in the top 10 of the collegiate rankings by Golfstat.
Woad arrives at Augusta fresh from her second career collegiate victory at the Florida State Match Up on the Seminoles Legends Golf Course. She carded a 4 under par score of 212 in the winning the Match Up on her college course and has earned two individual championship and seven top 10 finishes in the first eight events of her Florida State career.
“I feel really good,” said Woad just before making the five-hour drive from Tallahassee to Augusta on Sunday. “It was nice to get a win (at the Florida State Match Up) and I hope to use the momentum from that going forward to carry on what I am doing, and to see if I can play well again.”
Each of the Seminoles playing at Augusta this week had the opportunity to play the Champions Retreat prior to the Seminoles’ participation in the Valspar Augusta Invitational earlier this month.
“I think Champions’ Retreat is a pretty tough course,” said Woad. “It’s very long, so perhaps I’ll use some long irons, maybe some hybrids. The greens are pretty big, and they are going to be pretty quick. My caddie is our England Women’s Coach. He knows the course and has information, so he’s going to help me a lot.”
Heath begins play on Wednesday following a pair of top three individual finishes at the Valspar (second place, -7, 137) and the Florida State Match Up (tied for third, -1, 215). She is a total of 12 strokes under par in four tournaments this spring, and is a cumulative total of 27 strokes under par in eight starts this year.
Heath’s career low score for a single round (65) and her best 36-hole total (137) came on the nearby Forest Hills Golf Course during the 20221 Valspar.
“I think my game is in a good place, and I’m excited to see how it holds up against everyone else,” said Heath. “When we played Champions Retreat a couple of weeks ago, it played pretty different to what I think it is going to play this week. I think it will play firm. We had a local caddie when we played the course before the Valspar, and he gave us a lot of inside knowledge from him.”
Heath is also excited to play with her teammates, with her head coach in her gallery, and one of her assistant coaches on her bag.
“It’s really exciting to have both Amelia and Lottie playing in the ANWA,” said Heath. “I’m going to have Coach Bond and Coach Duck there as well. Coach Duck is going to caddy for me. He went to Augusta University, so he’s been around the track a lot; he’s knows the reads, and the greens, so that was a pretty easy decision.”
Williamson, the first ever fifth-year player to compete for Bond at Florida State, brings an incredible amount of experience to her first career ANWA. She has played in 41 career events (120 rounds) as a Seminole with nine top-10 finishes including placing fifth at the Florida State Match Up in her last outing. Williamson is ranked ninth in school history with a 73.63 career stroke average.
“I’m super grateful for the opportunity to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur,” said Williamson. “I certainly know that without this fifth year, and such a good senior year at FSU, and having the support of the coaches, that this opportunity wouldn’t have come around. I’m looking forward to being able to see my parents, and am excited for them to see me walking down the fairways. They’ve never actually seen me play much over here in the United States, especially not with my FSU clothes on. I’m super excited to have them by my side.”
Not only will her parents be at her side, but her dad will be her caddy.
“My dad is caddying for me,” said Williamson. “It was a hard choice in respect to choosing between my mom and my dad. I spent weeks pondering over it, but in the end I chose my dad because your caddy has to carry the clubs and my mom has never really done that before.”
Five English players will compete in the ANWA, including reigning Women’s British Amateur champion Jess Baker, Caley McGinty and Florida State’s trio of teammates.
“The Augusta National Women’s Amateur has quickly risen to the pinnacle of women’s amateur golf,” said Golfweek Senior Writer Beth Ann Nichols. “Beyond the goose bump moments that make it unforgettable for players and their families, the level of exposure the winner receives is major-like in its intensity.
“To have three players in this elite field of 72 speaks volumes about the depth of Florida State golf.”
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