Julienne Soo is making history this week as Australia’s first representative at golf’s newest – and already one of its most famous – amateur event, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The 22-year-old is the only Australian in the 72-strong field and she’ll be hoping to go the distance by making the final round cut and becoming the first female Australian to play a tournament round at Augusta National Golf Club.
“It is a very big carrot,” Soo said on Tuesday.
“I do want to get to that last 30 [players] but I don’t want to think about it too much because it is Augusta.
“If I put too much pressure on myself I’m probably going to get too nervous.”
Two stroke play rounds at Champions Retreat Golf Club will decide which 30 women will tee it up at the world’s most famous layout for Saturday’s final round.
Thankfully, all players will get to to play Augusta in a practice round on Friday, meaning there will be no dream-making or dream-breaking six-footers on Wednesday afternoon.
“I think that’s the best part, that we get to play it anyway, no matter what happens,” says Soo.
“I’d like to make it to that competition round but I’m super excited just to see the course in general.”
Soo, who is nearing the end of her time at Oklahoma University as an accomplished member of the women’s golf team, qualified for this week on the back of her world ranking.
The Victorian rightly feels at home this week against a field full of international talent and US college golf’s brightest young stars.
Much of the discussion in the lead-up has centred around how Augusta National will set up its course on Saturday for the world’s leading female amateurs.
But on the back of a downpour on Tuesday morning the talk of the locker and press rooms was the Champions Retreat layout, with Soo and World No. 1 Jennifer Kupcho equally surprised at how long the course played.
“I think it’s supposed to dry up the next couple of days so it will play a little bit shorter,” says Soo.
“After the rain it was playing so long, all of us were having 3-woods and hybrids in to par-4s.”
The firmness of Champions Retreat’s greens has been another pleasant surprise for Soo in a week full of them, after growing up on Melbourne’s sandbelt and playing some of her best golf in firm conditions.
“Even with all that rain it’s pretty slick,” says Soo.
“I’m sure when they get really firm it’s going to be just as fast as Royal Melbourne.
“That’s probably the part I’m most comfortable in. They’re so slick and firm so it’s easy to read. They’re rolling really smooth which could be good for me.”
Perhaps a dream-making six-footer might not be such a tall task.
Soo kickstarts her week on the 10th tee at 10am local time on Wednesday (1am Thursday morning AEDT) alongside American Sierra Brooks and Korea’s Seo-yun Kwon.