Augusta National continues modernisation with decision to host first ever women's event

Augusta National continues modernisation with decision to host first ever women's event

The victor of the event will receive an invitation to the next five Augusta National Women's Amateur Championships as long as that player remains an amateur.

In announcing the creation of the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship, which will make its debut in 2019, first-year club chairman Fred Ridley shook up what is normally the quietest day of Masters week, unveiling the culmination of a stunning, and secret, five-month plan.

The inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship will be contested over 54 holes by 72 players in 2019, said the club chairman Fred Ridley.

"I think focusing on amateur golf is consistent with our history, with our co-founder, Bobby Jones", Ridley said.

"We believe this event will have a long-lasting impact on the game", Ridley said. "Our hope and expectation is that this event will further energize those who already love the sport and inspire others through the dream of competing at Augusta National". Former Chairman Billy Payne introduced the club's first two female members in 2012, breaking down a barrier that in short order inspired the R&A to pressure several exclusive clubs on the British Open rotation to change their own exclusive policies.

"I just felt that there was an opportunity and a platform to make a statement as to how we feel about this part of the game", Ridley said on Wednesday. "But having said that, I think over time that this will also be of great benefit to the women's professional game as well". With Ridley in charge, the wisdom of a 65-year-old father of three daughters has made it a mission to use the considerable optic power of Augusta to advance rather than thwart the mission of equality. Take a moment to see it through the eyes of Annika Sorenstam, one of the greatest women golfers of all time, who also stood at the back of the room Wednesday.

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The 54-hole, stroke play tournament will feature an worldwide field of 72 players. Invitations will be based on the Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking and will be awarded to winners of other recognized championships.

In 2014, the first female competitors were welcomed to Augusta National on the Sunday before Masters Week to participate in the annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, providing an inspiration for young girls as well as boys to get involved in the game.

He said the victor would receive a trophy that would over time become no less iconic.

Ridley would not, however, say if the Augusta amateur champion would be awarded the trademark Green Jacket that goes to the victor of the Masters.

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