Valery Plata: A Year Full of New Experiences
The putt that Valery Plata holed at Pilar Golf to win the first edition of the Women's Amateur Latin America championship by a single stroke was unforgettable for the player born in Bucaramanga. It was a turning point in her career.
Not only for having achieved the win against the best women’s amateur players from South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, but also for the incredible prizes she won -playing the AIG Women's Open and The Amundi Evian Championship, two of the five majors in women's professional golf.
That dream-come-true for Plata is the goal that every amateur player wants to achieve when they start playing golf and the Women's Amateur Latin America championship is a pathway towards realising it thanks to the great work done by The R&A and the ANNIKA Foundation to promote and help the growth of women's golf in the region.
“I'm so happy, I still don't realize what I did, how great this victory is. I always dreamed of playing a Major championship and now I will participate in two. I still don't believe it,” said the Michigan State University student moments after her victory in Buenos Aires.
At this point, everything changed for the young Colombian player, who took a while to absorb everything she had achieved and the incredible opportunities that she would have ahead of her.
A few weeks later, Plata joined the Colombian team that won the Copa Los Andes (South America's most important amateur team championship), before returning to the United States where she won the Patriot All-America Invitational. It rounded off an unforgettable year for Valery, providing great confidence and motivation going into 2022.
The good news continued earlier this year after receiving an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur for the first time. “It's one of the top accomplishments of my career so far. I have wanted to play the tournament since it was launched a few years ago. I knew it was going to happen”, commented Plata, who had the great privilege of practicing at Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament.
After her time in Augusta, the Colombian focused on her university career and began preparation for the great adventure in Europe. Two Majors were waiting and her expectations were very high. A few weeks before, she received an invitation to play the Meijer LPGA Classic, an event on the LPGA Tour, that served as preparation for what was to come.
Finally, in July, Valery began her journey to Europe full of dreams and great ambitions to fulfill.
Her first stop was France to play The Amundi Evian Championship where she experienced for the first time what it means to be part of a major championship.
The 21-year-old will never forget teeing off at the Evian Resort Golf Club and being filled with so many emotions.
“The Women’s Amateur Latin America opened many doors for me. It was an incredible and unforgettable experience”, said Plata after playing in her first Major championship.
In August, she arrived in Scotland to compete in the AIG Women's Open at the famous links of Muirfield.
She was lucky to be accompanied throughout the week by a great professional in her fellow countrywomen Mariajo Uribe, who has 10 years of experience playing on the LPGA Tour and gave her valuable advice on how to prepare for this type of championship.
She also had the chance to share the first two rounds of the championship with the Mexican Gaby López, winner of three titles on the LPGA Tour, who also gave her much valuable advice.
“It has been a very positive balance, it was something unique and I learned a lot from those two weeks, especially seeing closely how the great players handle themselves in Major championships. I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Women’s Amateur Latin America gave me to be able to represent Latin America and my country. I am very happy”, remarked Plata.
The valuable experience she gained playing alongside the best golfers in the world is something she will never forget and will always carry with her, and also a great learning experience for her future in the sport.
The second edition of the Women’s Amateur Latin America championship will be played from 17-20 November 2022, and the champion will play alongside professional women's golf stars from around the world in three Majors next year: The Chevron Championship (April 20-23 at The Club at Carlton Woods, United States), The Amundi Evian Championship (July 27-30 at Evian Resort Golf Club, France), and the AIG Women's Open (August 10-13 at Walton Heath Golf Club, England).