The R&A - Working for Golf

Thitikul to defend WAAP title in Japan

Defending champion Atthaya Thitikul will lead a host of emerging stars from the region when the second edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) is played at The Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, from April 25-28.

At number eight in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Thailand’s Thitikul will also be the highest-ranked player in the field which features 80 players from 20 Asia-Pacific countries.

As well as Thitikul, two of the other three players involved in the exciting play-off that decided the champion in Singapore last year – Yuka Saso of the Philippines and Yuna Nishimura of Japan – have also committed to the championship.

The 17-year-old reigning Asian Games champion Saso, along with her namesake from Japan, Yuka Yasuda, are the next two highest-ranked players – at number 34 and 17 respectively.

The field comprises 15 players ranked inside the top 100 of the WAGR. The largest contingent is eight players from host nation Japan, while there will be players representing nations such as Bangladesh, Guam, Vietnam, Iran and Cook Islands – countries where the women’s game is still in its infancy.

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Reigning Asian Games gold medallist, Yuka Saso, will attempt to add to her success at the Royal Golf Club in April.

Huge learning experience

The champion at The Royal Golf Club will earn a spot in two of the five women’s major championships – the AIG Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship. She will also receive an invite to the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Thitikul, who created history in July 2017 when she became the youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour at the age of 14 at the Thailand Championship, enjoyed a phenomenal year as the WAAP champion. She was the Leading amateur at the 2018 Women’s British Open and ANA Inspiration and was tied eighth in the HSBC Women’s World Championship (the three spots she secured as winner of the inaugural WAAP).

“I am so excited to play the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific again. This year, I want to enjoy every moment of the championship and do my best. I am really looking forward to it,” said Atthaya, who turns 16 on Wednesday, February 20.

“It means so much to me to have won the WAAP last year. It gave me invitations to many big tournaments and I feel like it has been a huge learning experience for me in my journey to become a professional golfer.”

Unearthing talent

Kei Muratsu, Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, said: “Once again, we have the leading amateurs from this region taking part in the championship and the quality of the field shows how important the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has already become within just one year of its inception.

“We are looking forward to welcoming all of our participants to Japan and have no doubt they will put up as impressive a show as they did last year in Singapore.”

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been developed by The R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to unearth emerging talent and provide a pathway for Asia’s elite women amateurs to emerge on the international stage.

The R&A launched the Women in Golf Charter last year and is committed to increasing the participation of women in the sport. The WAAP is one of several key championships conducted by the governing body and a significant initiative along with the APGC to drive the popularity of women’s golf in the region.

Kabaya Ohayo is the principal sponsor and Rolex is the Official Scoring Partner. IMG assists with championship staging and TV broadcasting.

For more information on the championship, visit the website at randa.org/WAAP. For updates, like the championship’s Facebook page and follow @WAAPGolf on Twitter and Instagram.

Entry to the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is free of charge.