Tsubasa Kajitani Wins Augusta National Women’s Amateur in Playoff

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The first Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019 featured a closing charge by the eventual winner, Jennifer Kupcho, who faced down the intimidating back nine by playing her final six holes in five under par.While the tournament was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s edition proved, like so many of the Masters tournaments, that Augusta National is often the setting for drama and unpredictable outcomes.For most of Saturday’s final round, it appeared that Rose Zhang, a 17-year-old Californian, was going to claim a narrow victory in the 54-hole event with her steady, poised play. Zhang, who began the day tied for the lead after the first two rounds at the nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club, suddenly stumbled on Saturday with a triple bogey on the treacherous 13th hole. But Zhang then rallied to become one of six golfers tied for the lead with only a handful of holes left to play.For the next hour, the players jockeyed for the lead on the famed Augusta National layout in familiar, if fickle, ways — stunning recoveries under pressure, deft short-game play, steely-eyed putts and the occasional flub.In a surprise ending, after a one-hole playoff, it was a different 17-year-old, Tsubasa Kajitani of Japan, who came from behind to win the tournament. No Asian player has won the Masters, which was first contested in 1934. Asked how it felt to be the first player from Japan to win a tournament at Augusta National, Kajitani, who came off the final green with tears running down her cheeks, said through an interpreter that it was “a dream come true.”After 18 holes on Saturday, Kajitani and Emilia Migliaccio, a senior and an all-American golfer at Wake Forest University, were tied at one over par, one stroke ahead of six players from five countries who tied at two over.Both players hit their tee shots into the 18th fairway to start the playoff, but each was slightly out of position after wayward approach shots. Migliaccio had an exceedingly difficult chip over a bunker to a green sloping away from her, and Kajitani had to putt down the same unnerving slope from 45 feet away.