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‘All of it has changed for the better’: LPGA experience, junior success propel Anna Davis back to Augusta National Women’s Amateur

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. — A lot can happen in a year.

Just ask 17-year-old Anna Davis.

The 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion has quickly become a household name in the sport and spent last year competing against some big fish.

“I think in many ways. I’ve gotten to play in new tournaments; you know I played on tour for a few months,” she said. “Just new experiences, in general, that I haven’t had before and building new connections on and off the golf course have been super cool. Getting to meet new people and all of it has changed for the better, for sure.”

Davis made seven LPGA Tour starts last year, starting with the Palos Verdes Championship last April. Her best finish came just two weeks later at the Cognizant Founders Cup (T-50) in Clifton, New Jersey. She made the cut in five times, missing just the U.S. Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open.

The 2024 Auburn commit spent last week preparing at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, a tournament in which she finished third in her debut a year ago. According to Davis, who won the 2023 event in impressive fashion, there are significant parallels between the courses at Sage Valley and Augusta National that played into her success in 2022.

“The whole vibe of Sage Valley is very much like Augusta, so I think that kind of helped me last year,” she said. “This tournament is two weeks before Augusta and I think that helped last year, for sure, being in the same type of environment.”

Anna Davis of the United States plays her third shot on the second hole during the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Augusta National Golf Club on April 02, 2022, in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

One thing that always seems to stand out among ANWA competitors is that watching Augusta on television doesn’t do the course justice. The distance, elevation changes and fast greens are something one has to experience firsthand. For many, it’s a jarring realization given a single practice round.

“To be honest, I didn’t know much about the course. I really hadn’t seen the course much at all, like on tv or anything, until I played the practice round,” she said. “That’s kind of where I gained all my knowledge about it. I didn’t have prior information to playing the event.”

Davis isn’t the 16-year-old competitor we saw last year. She’s won at Augusta, played on tour and has played well in the amateur ranks coming into the ANWA. She took the top spot in the Jr. Orange Bowl International Golf Championship in January and finished fifth in the Dustin Johnson World Junior.

The biggest difference, she says, comes from the mental side of things.

“The mental aspect of the game, which is kind of overlooked a lot. Staying mentally strong when things go wrong or when you’re under pressure,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a simple golf course, but I’d say it’s simpler than people think. I had a good round that day and everything was spot on. So, I think that will help, knowing that I can play well out there.”

Perhaps the biggest piece of information fans want coming into the tournament, however, is whether the bucket hat will make another appearance. Davis left the door ajar on that front.

“We’ll see,” she said, smiling. “I think so, but not quite sure yet. I have one on me in case I want to wear it.”

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