At only 23 years old, Alice Chen of Princeton has achieved quite a bit in her life, including six New Jersey State Golf Association individual titles and winning two USGA team championships. But, given her plans to turn professional later this season, her participation in this week's inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April may prove to be the perfect culmination to her storied amateur career.
“It is a huge honor, and I am very excited to play in the first women’s championship ever to be held at Augusta National. Few people get to be part of a first of anything,” said an exuberant Chen, who graduated from Furman University in 2018 and plans to join the Symetra Tour after the conclusion of the event.
This groundbreaking event is the first women’s tournament to include a round at Augusta National Golf Club. Home of the The Masters since 1934, the renowned Augusta National did not have a female member until 2012. “We believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women's game,” announced Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley at the 2018 Masters.
By finishing among the top 30 female amateurs in the United States for 2018 according to the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Chen, at No. 28, was extended the invitation. Other invitees have won major amateur tournaments, achieved high amateur rankings, or received a special invitation.
One of New Jersey’s most decorated champions, Chen has won two NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championships (2016, ’13), two NJSGA Public Links titles (2015, ‘14) and two NJSGA Junior crowns (2013, ’12). She also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship with Taylor Totland of Tinton Falls in 2017 and was part of New Jersey’s victorious USGA Women’s State Team Championship with Cindy Ha and Tara Fleming in 2013.
Chen’s collegiate career culminated in 2018 when she won the prestigious LPGA Dinah Shore Trophy, which honors female collegiate golfers who excel in academics and athletics, while demonstrating outstanding leadership skills and community service. She is also active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
While at Furman, Chen became only the 10th four-time All-Southern Conference honoree. She is only the second player in league history to finish among the top three individuals four times at the conference championship, which dates back to 1994. In 2018, she tied for 21st at the NCAA Division 1 Championship, won individual medalist honors at the Moon Golf Invitational, and tied for third at the Southern Conference Championship.
Last October, she competed in the LPGA Tour Qualifying School and reached Stage 2 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla., where she earned partial status on the Symetra Tour.
The invitation-only, Augusta National Women’s Championship will take place this Wednesday through Saturday (April 3-6), concluding just days before the beginning of the Masters. Featuring a unique schedule, the championship will be conducted over 54-holes of stroke play, with the first two rounds to take place at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club (located 15 miles from Augusta - in Evans, Ga.) After the conclusion of 36-holes on Thursday at Champions Retreat, the field will be cut to 30 players who will complete the final 18-holes on Saturday, April 6 at Augusta National. However, regardless of each player’s finish, the entire original field is invited to play a practice round this Friday, April 5.
Chen spent her winter months at home (in Princeton) working out faithfully, trying to improve her strength and fitness through yoga, Pilates, and strength building. She hopes her diligent preparation will pay dividends in Augusta – a place which she has never visited. “It’s special to experience Augusta for the first time – especially as a player. I’ll feel like a kid in a candy store when I finally get onto the course – it’ll be hard to contain my excitement.”
Saturday’s final round is expected to draw a large national television audience, with coverage of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship available from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. on NBC.