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ANA Inspiration, opposite ANWA, will include 4 top amateurs
04 Feb 2019
by Julie Williams of AmateurGolf.com

see also: Rachel Heck Rankings

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Rachel Heck (USGA photo)
Rachel Heck (USGA photo)

Top female amateurs were faced with a difficult decision this April when it came to choosing between the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the ANA Inspiration, the first major on the LPGA schedule. The ANA has traditionally celebrated female amateurs by making room for several of them in the field. The two tournaments happen to overlap the first week of April.

Augusta solidified its 72-woman field last week, and on Monday, the ANA Inspiration announced its four amateur invitees. All four would have received a spot in the ANWA courtesy of their position in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Frida Kinhult, a freshman at Florida State and currently No. 2 in the WAGR, tops the list, followed by UCLA sophomore Patty Tavatanakit (No. 3), Stanford junior Albane Valenzuela (No. 6) and Stanford commit Rachel Heck (No. 11).

The final amateur in the field will be the winner of the ANA Junior Inspiration, a 54-hole AJGA event to be played the weekend before the ANA Inspiration.

Valenzuela also played the ANA last year and easily made the cut. She was 6 under and T-8 after 36 holes, and finished an eventual 59th at even par.

Heck’s run in LPGA events is also impressive and includes made cuts at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and 2018 Evian Championship.

“This major has so much history, and I am honored to be following in the footsteps of my role models who also played in the ANA Inspiration on amateur invites when they were starting out,” Heck said. “It is such an amazing opportunity and pretty inspiring to be playing among the world’s best professionals.”

Tavatanakit tied for fifth at the 2018 U.S. Women's Open and was the No. 1-ranked junior in the country before joining the UCLA roster.

As for Kinhult, she acknowledged what a difficult decision it was to be faced with two such opportunities on the same week. Ultimately, Kinhult felt the ANA would better prepare her for the professional career she hopes to one day have.

“My thoughts are that the great amateurs are as good as some professionals too,” said Kinhult, who Monday qualified for the Ricoh Women’s British Open last summer in a field that also included Paula Creamer. “It was just a hard decision, but I think experience-wise, I think I’ll give myself more experience for the future this way.”

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