LSU Gold

LSU Golfers Start Their Journey At Augusta National Women's Am

by Kent Lowe
LSU Golfers Start Their Journey At Augusta National Women's Am

AUGUSTA, Georgia – It seemed like familiar surroundings when LSU golfers Ingrid Lindblad and Latanna Stone stepped up for their respective first tee shots here Tuesday in the practice round of the fifth Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

For Lindblad it is her fourth appearance and for Stone her third as part of an elite field of 72 players that will tee off Wednesday morning at Champions Retreat Golf Club.

The format is a familiar one to those playing and watching at home. The field will play 18 holes on both Wednesday and Thursday with the top 30 and ties (ties getting in for the second year) advancing to the final round at the famed Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday. All players will get to play a round at Augusta on Friday.

For LSU in this year’s event there is a third player making her first appearance and that is Rocio Tejedo, younger sister of LSU senior Carla Tejedo, who is signed to play for the Tigers in the 2024-25 season. This will be her first appearance at the ANWA.

There was a light atmosphere in the air as players and caddies chatted on the tee prior to the start of the practice rounds.

“(Tuesday) was just kind of go out there and remembering this is where I need my tee shots and putting around getting familiar with the speeds and what not,” said Stone after her practice round.

In many respects it is like some of the college events Stone has played in for the Tigers, including the last three events which have been played on the same course her entire career.

“Just try to be loose and just have fun this whole week,” said Stone.

Lindblad finished T3 in 2021 after a final round of 68 at Augusta National, missing a playoff by one shot and then coming back the next year to finish T2. Stone has posted back-to-back top 10s each of the past two years in her first two appearances, finishing T2 with Lindblad in 2022 and solo eighth in 2023 shooting an even par 72 in the final round at Augusta to shoot a solid even par 216 for the 54 holes.

Lindblad has won 14 times in her collegiate career, setting a Southeastern Conference women’s record for wins with her 18-under winning performance in Sunset, South Carolina at The Reserve at Lake Keowee some 10 days ago. She is averaging 68.48 for her college season with three wins during the 2023-24 golf season.

Lindblad, the LSU graduate student, noticed some things along the way on Tuesday.

“We thought a lot of the pins were pins we thought we would play the rest of the week,” she said after her round in the interview area. “So, we tried to figure out some pin (locations) for the rest of the week, took some putts from there trying to figure out how much the ball was going to roll out on the green and if there is a difference (hitting) from the fairway. Having a downhill putt down grain versus an uphill putt into the grain. It is such a big difference. The downhill putts are so quick.

“Otherwise, it was just nice going out there. Having seen the course a couple of times before you don’t have to think too much from the tee box. Just trust the wind today. I finished on the front nine and the wind was kind of swirling on four through nine and you think you hit a good shot but the wind didn’t pick it up. A little tricky, but just trying to figure out how the course is playing,” Lindblad said.

Lindblad is No. 1 in both the college and world amateur rankings this season.

Stone has one win this season, four for her career, and is ranked No. 30 in the world rankings. She is averaging 71.46 for the 2023-24 season.

Tejedo is No. 13 in the world rankings was on the victorious 2023 Junior Solheim Cup and Junior Ryder Cup teams for Europe. The 17-year-old from Castellon Spain also had top-six finishes in two World Amateur Golf ranking events in January.

Weather for the practice round was sunny and warm but there is a 90 percent chance of overnight thunderstorms stretching into the early morning hours before the forecast drops to below 40 percent by 10 a.m. The temperatures will drop with highs in the low-to-mid 60s Thursday through Saturday with substantial winds for the two rounds at Champions Retreat.

Both Lindblad and Stone tee off at the same time on opposite sides of the golf course in the second-to-last pairings with Lindblad off the first tee and Stone off the 10th tee at 9:44 a.m. ET (8:44 a.m. Baton Rouge time). Both groups should be featured in the television coverage on The Golf Channel which begins at 1:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. Baton Rouge time).

Lindblad is paired with another fifth-year player and also four-time All-American Rachel Kuehn of Wake Forest and 18-year-old Japanese star Yuna Araki who was T9 in her ANWA debut a year ago. Kuehn’s best finish was seventh in the 2022 ANWA.

Araki is ranked No. 6 in the world rankings and Kuehn is No. 15.

Stone is paired with Kentucky senior Laney Frye in her second appearance and Rianne Malixi of the Philippines. Frye was one of the players, along with Stone, who took part in a 2024 U.S. Curtis Cup practice session in January. Malixi is 26th in the WAGR.

Tejedo will be off the 10th hole at 8:35 a.m. ET with University of Oregon signee Yana Wilson at age 17 in her third ANWA appearance and Virginia junior Amanda Sambach in her fourth appearance.

Coverage of the first two rounds on The Golf Channel is from 12:30-2:30 p.m. ET with final round coverage from Augusta National set for NBC and Peacock beginning at Noon ET (11 a.m. Baton Rouge time).