EVANS, Georgia — On Friday, Paula Schulz-Hanssen gave herself the ideal 19th birthday present.
Augusta National has a tee time.
The German (who has committed to play at Arizona State) two-putted for par on the fourth playoff hole to win the Augusta National Women’s Amateur after a four-person playoff.
Despite the fact that every player in the 72-man field can play a practice round on Friday at the Masters’ home course, only the top 30 are assured a berth in the third and final round on Saturday.
Schulz-Hanssen was all too aware of this. She missed the cut last year and played the practice round for fun rather than preparation.
“I feel like I need to focus now and write down a few things,” she explained.
Schulz-Hanssen was in a four-player playoff at nearby Champions Retreat alongside Arizona State’s Alexander Forsterling, Vanderbilt’s Auston Kim, and Virginia’s Amanda Sambach, who all finished 36 holes at 6-over 150.
On the first playoff hole, all four players made par, with Schulz-Hanssen having the greatest chance for birdie from inside 10 feet.
After failing to get up and down from behind the green on the second extra hole, Fosterling was the first player to be eliminated. Kim subsequently made bogey on the par-3 17th (the third playoff hole), allowing Schulz-Hanssen, a seasoned amateur in Germany, and Sambach, one of the country’s finest freshmen, to take the stage.
Sambach couldn’t hold her short approach on the upper tier after both players laid up on the par-5 18th, blasting it back to the front of the green and leaving a tough 40-footer. Schulz-wedge Hanssen’s shot rebounded and landed within 10 feet of the hole, giving her a significant advantage.
Sambach missed her birdie putt by 6 feet and then lipped out the par attempt, allowing Schulz-Hanssen to advance.
“I was really nervous,” Schulz-Hanssen said, “but I just tried not to think about it too much.” “I didn’t make any major errors.” That, I believe, was the key.”
After the second round was postponed due to severe rain, Schulz-Hanssen only had seven holes to complete on Friday morning. She made two three-putts and finished with a score of 76.
That didn’t matter an hour later, though, once she’d booked a tee time for the final day.
“That’s a really nice present for me,” she added. “I’m ecstatic, and I’m quite proud.”