Forrest Little’s Julie McCarthy has made the cut to feature in an 85-strong field to contest the second August National Women’s Amateur in March.
The Swords woman will be making her debut in the event having been invited a year ago only for Covid-19 to pull the plug
The organisers, though, have honoured last year’s invitations, giving McCarthy – currently based at Auburn University in Alabama – the chance to pit her wits against the best amateurs in the world.
“One of my team mates played in the first one and she said the experience was absolutely amazing,” she told the Dublin Gazette.
“This event puts women’s golf on a bigger stage. The fact the final round is on Augusta National attracts a lot of press attention; it will be a great experience and we are just so lucky to get the chance to do it.”
It gives her season an early focal point after a heavily disrupted 2020 season. McCarthy shone in 2019, earning a WGCA Honorable Mention All-American, winning the Clemson Invitational event alongside six top five finishes.
But she was only able to contest a couple of tournaments since then as the pandemic meant lots of scrambling last spring.
“We were in the final run-up to Augusta when it hit; my dad was planning to come over so we are hoping he can make the trip over this year as well.
“Suddenly, everything was all up in the air. With our visas, we had to speak a lot with the university. I wanted to be home to be with my family as soon as possible with lockdowns happening left, right and centre.
“I was afraid if there was a lockdown and I couldn’t get back into the country, there would be issues. With my student visa, you are meant to do a certain amount of classes in person and things like that to be eligible.”
Eventually, McCarthy got sorted and was able to stay in Dublin until August before returning stateside where local restrictions did allow for her to compete once more but this, too, was put on hiatus.
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“We were lucky when we came back that we had a full schedule in the fall semester. The SCC [the local conference], they had tests and protocols in place each week so we were lucky as one of the few conferences to play.
“I had one tournament, got a top 10 finish in Arkansas [at the Blessings Intercollegiate]. Then my grandfather took sick and so I ended up coming home early in the semester. I was lucky to spend a lovely two weeks with him. Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything at all.”
Her grandfather was a birdie-fan of a different-type, an owner of border canaries. The chase for golfing birdies came through her father Ronan, introducing her to the game at Forrest Little via club pro Tony Judd’s summer camps.
From there, she rose the ranks to win Irish girls titles in 2013 and 2016 and she went on to represent Ireland in several international competitions as well as the ladies Home Internationals in 2015 and the girls European team championships between 2014 and 2016.
It earned her the scholarship where she is now in her third year of an accounting major at Auburn with high hopes for the season ahead, particularly with her inclusion on the wider Curtis Cup panel.
“Curtis Cup is definitely a goal for me. I have a spring schedule here of four tournaments, then post season, then go home and try play British Championship, European teams and see what happens with the Curtis Cup.
“Things will get hectic pretty soon.”
Augusta is chief on the priority list and she has already picked up some insider knowledge.
“I was there last Sunday! In Auburn, if you are in third or fourth year, you get to go and play Augusta for the day. I think it does suit my game. It’s not too tight off the tee and not setup too long. The trickiest part is definitely around the greens. I am sure they get even quicker around tournaments but I really liked it, it was a fun course to play.”