India's rising amateur golfer, Anika Varma will participate at the 120th US Women's Amateur Championship, scheduled to be held at Woodmont Country Club's North Course in Rockville from August 6 to 9. With the organisers being forced to put off the qualifying tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first all-exempt championship in recent history. After two rounds of stroke play on August 3 and 4, the top 64 players will advance to the match-play portion of the championship.
The 16-year-old Varma, who is currently in the United States and chose to stay on during the COVID-19 crisis, said, "The USGA reached out to the players based on the exemption category related to the Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking (WGAR), the top 75 ranked players as on June 24, 2020 have been provided an exemption into the Championship. From there we were all asked to file an entry and today they contacted me to inform me that I have earned an exemption into the tournament."
Varma is a high school student at the Granite Bay School in Roseville in the US. "As a 16-year-old during the pandemic I haven't been able to do much in high school as well as golf. COVID-19 has definitely affected my golf season this year. The year started with Women's Amateur Asia Pacific being postponed to October. During the shelter-in-place my regular school shifted to online schooling," she said.
"My other tournaments such as Thunderbird, USGA qualifiers, IMG Junior and the World Amateur Championship got cancelled similar to the case of Hero Women's Indian Open. Although my season was cut short I am grateful to be given the opportunity to understand my shortcomings and improve them. I was given the chance to play the Cactus Tour because the government of Arizona State allowed the golf courses to stay open as long as social distancing rules are strictly followed and precautions are being taken."
During her stay in the US, Varma has been playing regularly on the Cactus Tour, which has also seen numerous Ladies PGA (LPGA) and Ladies European Tour (LET) compete. "The experience has been great." In 2019, she finished fifth at the LET event - the Hero Women's Indian Open. She was top amateur and the top Indian in the field. The line-up at the US Women's Amateur will be extremely strong with 13 USGA champions in the field. They include defending US Women's Amateur champion, Gabriela Ruffels of Australia, as well as Kelsey Chugg (2017 US Women's Mid-Amateur).
The field also features 14 of the amateurs who competed in the 2019 US Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston (SC), including low amateur Gina Kim, who tied for 12th at one-under-par 283, and Rose Zhang, who finished in a tie for 55th place. The Woodmont Country Club is hosting its first USGA championship. It hosted the US Open final qualifying 32 out of 33 years since 1986, as well as three US Women's Open qualifiers.