The 2021 Cognizant Founders Cup is underway at Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, N.J. The tradition of this competition and the $3 million purse has attracted the top female golfers around the world to participate. Players from the 2021 Olympics, including Olympic Gold Medalist Nelly Korda, join top European golfers from the 2021 Solheim Cup.
Among this fierce competition is Amari Avery, the 2021 John Shippen Shootout Winner. Avery, from Riverside, California, participated in the 36-hole John Shippen Invitational in July. Her shootout winning one under par (birdie-par-par) earned her exemption in the 2021 Cognizant Founders Cup. She is currently ranked 44th in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Avery first started attempting to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 11-years-old, she played in her first Open this past May. She also represented Team USA last month at the 2021 Junior Solheim Cup, which Europe won. Avery’s exemption into the Founders Cup is an underappreciated big moment for women’s golf. The Shippen Shootout was designed to promote inclusivity in the sport of golf, and the 17-year-old winning it and participating in her first LGPA competition speaks volumes to the growth of the game.
Avery was featured in the 2013 Netflix documentary, “The Short Game,” which followed a handful of 7 to 8-year-old golfers at the 2012 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. During the film, Andre Avery, Amari’s father, called her the world’s next greatest golfer, and Avery took some significant steps to do so. The Cognizant Founders Cup has moved mountains this past decade to make the sport of golf accessible to younger women country-wide. Avery, who has won her way into the tournament, is a milestone for diversity efforts to grow the sport. With great academic standing, and quite the resume of accomplishments from golf stacking up; Avery committed to attending the University of Southern California next fall.
Avery is joined by Jensen Castle, another exemption participating this week. Castle is a West Columbia, South Carolina native, currently on the University of Kentucky’s Women’s Golf Team. She earned her exemption with a win at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship this past August at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York. In a competition of 156 athletes, she beat Yu-Chiang Hou of Chinese- Taipei 2 and 1.
Avery is sure to turn heads as she prepares to tee off Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. EST and Castle tees off at 12:17 p.m. EST. The 2021 Cognizant Founders Cup will be broadcasted on the Golf Channel Thursday the 7th from 2-5 p.m. The tournament will also be streamed on the NBC Sports App and golfchannel.com. The first tee off is at 7:15 a.m.