Golf

Yana Wilson Q&A: Top-ranked junior on playing Augusta, winning a pro event and more

Pinehurst #10 Opened Today. Want to play it?
Yana Wilson, one of the top-ranked juniors in the world, is competing in her third Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Getty Images
Yana Wilson is only 17 years old, but she’s already had a fair bit of success at Augusta National. Twice — in 2019 and 2021 — she’s won the Drive, Chip and Putt national final at Augusta, and in 2023 she survived the 36-hole cut at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, earning a final-round tee time at the storied course.
This year, she heads back to Augusta for a third (and perhaps final) time. Her first go around, she missed the cut. The year following, T26. What will this year have in store? After a first-round 76, she’s T57 and will have her work cut out for her. But if the Augusta National Women’s Amateur has taught us anything, drama will likely be in store.
GOLF.com chatted with Wilson about her prep for Augusta, winning a pro event as an amateur, and more.
Zephyr Melton: How did the prep go for the ANWA?
Yana Wilson: The weather was a little iffy down here, but otherwise it was been good! The course [Champions Retreat] is pure. The course looks great and greens are super fast, so it will be fun.
ZM: Obviously you get to play Champions before the event, but how do you prepare for a challenge like Augusta National?
YW: I mean, there’s really no prep that you can do for Augusta National. There’s really nothing like it. But honestly, I think the prep for Augusta is all mental because, you know, playing in front of crowds is totally different than what we’re used to. So I think the prep is more mental than anything. People tend to get nervous. You just have to calm your mind and make sure you’re not overthinking too much when you play out there.
ZM: This will be your third time playing the ANWA. What did you learn the second time around that you didn’t necessarily know going in your first time?
YW: I think I just had too many expectations the first year. I thought I was gonna play well and the first time we played Champions Retreat I didn’t give it enough respect, but it’s a super tough course. I went for every pin and I didn’t play conservative, which on that course you really have to. I feel like I just learned that for the next year and I think that really helped me make the make the cut my second year.
ZM: What was the biggest surprise playing Augusta for the first time?
YW: Probably how hilly the course actually is. Walking outside the ropes you kind of get a feel for it, but actually playing in those conditions is entirely different. And then just how tough the greens are. The undulations are insane. Sometimes you have to be so creative just to hit a good 15-foot putt. Also I was amazed at just how pretty it was out there. Like, you watch it on TV, but it’s so much prettier in person.
ZM: You won a Cactus Tour event earlier this year for your first victory in a pro event — what was that like?
YW: Honestly it was just so unexpected. I just play in those Cactus Tour events to get a feel for pro tournaments, and to learn from the pros, but I didn’t really expect to beat all of them. Like I knew my game was in a good spot and felt confident, but it was still surprising because I’d never been in contetion in a pro event before. So it was great experience for the future and for preparing me for more pro events.
ZM: You also won the junior portion of the Mizuho Americas Open last summer. What was it like playing alongside the LPGA pros and having huge crowds like that?
YW: It was super cool. Honestly, it was such a blessing getting to play alongside the pros in that environment. And that actually really helped me when I got to that Cactus Tour event I won. I was just tried to use that week to learn as much as I could. Like I wasn’t even worried as much about competing against the juniors, I was more so just trying to learn from the pros and copy what they did. I just tried to copy the lines they took and asked as much advice as I could.
ZM: So, who is your favorite LPGA pro?
YW: Minjee Lee — she’s awesome. But also for that event, they assigned us a pro to be a mentor for the week, and I got paired up with Andrea Lee, and she was amazing. We got to talk and hang out throughout the week and I learned a lot from her.
ZM: What specifically did you learn?
YW: Just how to carry myself like a professional. Pro golf is not easy, but it was super inspiring to see how Andrea carries herself and handles all the pressure that comes with it. Plus she’s one of the nicest pro golfers I’ve ever met.
ZM: Your junior career is coming to a close soon — what do you have left to accomplish?
YW: I just want to close it with a bang.
ZM: Last question. What would a successful week at ANWA look like?
YW: I just want to have a good time out here and spend some time with my friends. Obviously making the cut would be awesome, but, I think just playing the best to my ability is probably just the biggest thing for me. I’m not too worried about results. I know I’ve worked really hard and I think my hard work will show itself, but I’m not too worried about like results or anything like that.

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.
INCLUDES 12 SRIXON Z-STAR XV GOLF BALLS, 1 YR OF GOLF MAGAZINE, $20 FAIRWAY JOCKEY CREDIT – AND MUCH MORE!
© 2024 EB Golf Media LLC. An 8AM Golf Affiliated Brand. All Rights Reserved.

source

You may also like