AUGUSTA, Ga. — It was a historic day at the Augusta National Golf Club Saturday as Duke University sophomore Jaravee Boonchant and incoming freshman Erica Shepherd were two of the first female golfers to play the first competitive round at the historic course in Augusta, Ga., to conclude the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“It was a lot of fun today with a lot of ups and downs,” said Boonchant. “I was really trying to play hole-by-hole not think about too much, just stay in the present, which helped on a number of holes.”
Boonchant carded a two-over-par, 74, in the final round on her way to finishing in a tie for 12th, while Shepherd signed for a three-over, 75, and was tied for 23rd overall.
This was just so cool, so many people here to watch us play, it was awesome,” said Shepherd. “Always great to play against the best and face the pressure of playing the best.”
A native of Bangkok, Thailand, Boonchant had a shaky start to the day missing the fairway in her first two drives, but came back on the 340-yard, par four fourth to roll in an 18-foot birdie. After another missed fairway on No. 4, she suffered a bogey, but settled down and played the next four holes at one-under-par.
Boonchant had 97 yards in on the 330-yard, par four seventh and hit her 50-degree wedge to two feet and sank the birdie. After a bogey on No. 9, Boonchant hit her hybrid from 190 yards to five feet and rolled in her third birdie of the afternoon. She went on to par the next three holes, before having a bogey on No. 14.
In front of a big crowd around the green of No. 15 and tee box of No. 16, Boonchant put on a show as she stuck her approach into the 475-yard, par five 15th to inches from 67 yards out. She stepped up and tapped in the birdie, which ignited a roar from the Augusta crowd. Boonchant had a great sand save on the famous par three 16th and added a bogey on No. 17, but closing with a par on No. 18. She hit nine fairways, 10 greens and rolled 29 putts.
Over the three days of the tournament, Boonchant had rounds of 72, 72 and 74 for a 218.
“This is such a great building experience for me and my game,” said Boonchant. “The crowds, the atmosphere, the players were all incredible and I hope that I can play well enough to return next year. It will definitely be a goal of mine.”
Shepherd, who hails from Greenwood, Ind., had a start to remember blasted her opening tee shot into the middle of the fairway on the 365-yard, par four first hole, before hitting an 8-iron from 153 yards to 16 feet and draining the birdie. After a par on No. 2, she missed the fairway on the third hole and was not able to get the par.
The future Blue Devil then struck fire going two-under-par over the next eight holes and put her name on the top 10 leaderboard out on the course for an extended amount of time. Shepherd connected on a nine-footer for birdie on No. 6 and then hit her 9-iron from 130 yards to two feet drained the birdie to move to two-under-par for the day and even par for the tournament.
After a three-putt bogey on No. 12, she miscalculated the yardage on a layup shot on No. 15 and hit the shot in the water. She went on to make a double-bogey, seven, and then closed with bogeys on No. 16 and No. 17. Shepherd two-putted from 20 feet on No. 18 to finish with a 75. She hit 11 greens, 11 fairways and had 30 putts to close her week.
Shepherd had rounds of 71, 75 and 75 for a 221.
Jennifer Kupcho signed for a five-under, 67, in the final round on her way to shooting 10-under-par for the week to claim individual accolades.
As a team, No. 1 ranked Duke will next travel to Greensboro, N.C., to compete in the ACC Championship April 18-20 at Sedgefield Country Club.