EVANS, Ga. – Paula Schulz-Hanssen gave herself the perfect 19th birthday present on Friday.
A tee time at Augusta National.
The German (who has committed to play at Arizona State) two-putted for par on the fourth playoff hole to earn the one and only spot from a four-person playoff at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Though every player in the 72-player field can play a practice round Friday at the home of the Masters, only the top 30 are guaranteed a spot Saturday for the third and final round.
Schulz-Hanssen knew that all too well. Last year, she missed the cut and played the practice round for fun, not preparation.
“I feel like now I really have to concentrate and write down a few things,” she said.
At nearby Champions Retreat, Schulz-Hanssen was in a 4-for-1 playoff along with Arizona State’s Alexander Forsterling, Vanderbilt’s Auston Kim and Virginia’s Amanda Sambach, all of whom finished 36 holes at 6-over 150.
Each of the four players made par on the opening playoff hole, with Schulz-Hanssen having the best look at birdie from inside 10 feet.
Fosterling was the first player eliminated, after she failed to get up and down from behind the green on the second extra hole. Kim then missed the green on the par-3 17th (the third playoff hole) and made bogey, leaving the stage to Schulz-Hanssen, an accomplished amateur in Germany, and Sambach, one of the country’s top freshmen.
After both players laid up on the par-5 18th, Sambach couldn’t keep her short approach on the upper tier, ripping it back to the front of the green and leaving a tricky 40-footer. Schulz-Hanssen’s wedge shot bounced and came to rest inside 10 feet, giving her a clear advantage.
Sambach left her birdie putt 6 feet short and then lipped out the par try, clearing the way for Schulz-Hanssen to advance.
“I was so nervous, but I just tried not to think too much about it,” Schulz-Hanssen said. “I didn’t make any big mistakes. I think that was the key.”
Schulz-Hanssen had seven holes to finish on Friday morning after the second round was delayed because of heavy rain. She three-putted twice and signed for a disappointing 76.
Not that that mattered an hour later, after she’d secured a tee time for the final day.
“That’s, like, a great present for myself,” she said. “I’m very excited, and I’m very proud.”