Olivia Mehaffey: Northern Ireland golfer to begin Augusta National Women's Amateur challenge

Mehaffey is 18th in the women's world amateur rankings
Mehaffey showed impressive form by finishing in a share of sixth place in a recent Symetra Tour event

Northern Ireland golfer Olivia Mehaffey aims to "highlight" her amateur career before entering the professional ranks by winning this week's Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship.

Mehaffey, 18th in the world amateur rankings, goes into the event after finishing sixth in a recent pro event on the LPGA's second-tier tour.

After playing at Augusta in the 2019 event, Mehaffey is thrilled to be back.

"It's so special and great for the women's game," said the 23-year-old.

"That's something that means a lot of me to try and encourage those behind me and the younger generation."

The home of the Masters, which did not allow female members until 2012, hosted the tournament for the first time two years ago, in which Mehaffey ended five-over through 54 holes.

The opening two rounds of the 54-hole event take place at the Champions Retreat Golf Club near Augusta with the top 30 players then going on to play the world-famous Masters venue on the final day.

All competitors also get a chance to play a practice round at Augusta National.

Mehaffey said that playing in the inaugural Augusta women's event two years ago was a nerve-wracking experience even for a player who already had achieved big success during her collegiate career in the US.

"I've never felt so much pressure. Everyone was watching. I was really wanting to make the cut so I could compete at Augusta National.

"I was well inside the cut line playing the last which was a par five but I was still so nervous and I was saying to myself: 'Why are you so nervous? You're inside by miles'.

"To go there and win would just highlight my amateur career before turning pro.

"It (Augusta) is like Disneyland for a kid. You are walking around in awe the whole time."

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