EVANS, Ga. – As Rose Zhang threatens to run away with this Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Andrea Lignell might be one of the only players left who can catch her.
But she’ll need to bring her putter.
Lignell, the Ole Miss senior from Gothenburg, Sweden, rode a hot flatstick to an 8-under total and second-place standing entering Saturday’s final round at Augusta National Golf Club. She’s a shot clear of Georgia’s Jenny Bae, and five better than the next closest competitors, and she’ll be paired with Zhang, the world No. 1 and women’s amateur juggernaut who is five ahead, in the last twosome off.
“Obviously, a lot of attention will be on her,” Lignell said of Zhang, “and if I get to play with her, that's really cool. I've never played with her. She's such a great player. I'm just going to try and enjoy it and just have fun.”
Lignell has experienced a breakout season for the Rebels, winning her first two career college titles among four other top-5 finishes. She was an integral part of Ole Miss’ NCAA title squad as a sophomore, but this year she’s reached a new level of play as she’s rededicated herself to her putting.
She calls it her new “putting project.” Mainly, it involves fixing her speed and matching it with her lines while also making sure that she puts in at least an hour of putting work each practice session. She switched to a different Ping mallet putter a few weeks ago as well.
“This is first week that we’ve really seen a lot of putts fall for her,” Ole Miss head coach Kory Henkes said. “She’s been really close and really close and working hard.”
As she turns her focus to Augusta National, Lignell’s revamped putting will be put to its greatest test yet.
“I think I'm going to focus a bit extra on the greens,” Lignell said, “because I've played there once before, but I've heard the greens are really tough, like some breaks that you don't even really see.”
Henkes says Lignell, who was highly ranked when she arrived in Oxford but not a member of the Swedish national team, has developed into a player who now thrives in big moments. She rolled in the winning putt in the championship match two springs ago at Grayhawk.
“She likes being in the lead group and having pressure put on her,” Henkes said.
Full-field scores from the Augusta National Women’s Amateur
Lignell, who is nicknamed “Dre” by her teammates, arrived in the Augusta area, by her own admission, just hoping to make the cut.
Now, it’s time for the next episode: Will it be Zhang’s coronation as the greatest of all-time? Or will Lignell, straight outta Gothenburg, pull off a comeback for the ages?
“She’s going to need to put a little bit of heat on Rose early because Rose doesn’t falter much, we know that,” Henkes said. “Andrea’s a good ball-striker, so if she can grab a few birdies early, I think that’ll be the key to just getting her confidence rolling because I don’t see Rose messing up.”
Added Lignell of her big opportunity in two days time: “That's going to be crazy. I'm so excited to go there. I'm going to be nervous for sure, but I'm really excited.”