Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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James Piot will be joined by a familiar face in Augusta, Georgia this spring.

According to a press release from Michigan State, senior golfer Valery Plata has received an invitation to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, or ANWA, at Island and Bluff nines at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The event will be held from March 30 to April 2.

The honor doesn’t come as much of a surprise to Plata, the No. 42 ranked player in the World Amateur Golf standings and 2020 Big Ten Player of the Year. But participating in the ANWA, with a shot at a championship round on the famed Augusta National greens, completes a desire she’s held since the event’s inception in 2019.

“I’ve wanted to play in this ever since it was a thing,” Plata said in the press release. “I actually remember calling Stacy (Slobodnik-Stoll) from home when I heard about it and told her I wanted to play in it and I wanted to figure out what I had to do. That was three years ago.”

Plata found out about her invitation through a package sent to Lasch Golf Center, the home base of Michigan State golf. With Piot also accepting his invitation to the Masters, Head Coach Stacey Slobodnik-Stoll said her accomplishment is “tremendous” and both events mark a significant time in the history of the program.

“This is very rewarding,” she said in the press release. “Watching a young person work as hard as she has, and watching her from age 17 when she arrived here four years ago and seeing where she is now at this point, not only in her golf, but also who she is as a person, but how she has evolved, it’s very special. It says a lot about our program and what we continue to accomplish at Michigan State.”

The ANWA is a 54-stroke play event using two locations. The first 36 holes are set to be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club with the top 30 moving on from there to play at Augusta National. All participants will have the chance to play a practice round at Augusta on April 1, the day before the final round.

Winning the event merits automatic invitations to the next five ANWAs, the following U.S. Women’s Open and Women’s British Open with other prestigious amateur events in play so long as a participant maintains their amateur status.

Plata is the second Michigan State golfer to be invited to the event, with Allyson Geer-Park notching selections in 2019 and 2020. It comes after a strong fall and winter from Plata where she won the Patriot All-American Invitational in Arizona and Women’s Amateur Latin American, or WALA, Championship in Argentina in consecutive months.

The invitations come at an exciting time for the senior—even if it was somewhat expected.

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