Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

Defending champion in share of lead after round one in Thailand

The R&A
01 Feb 24
3 mins

A hole-in-one propelled Navaporn Soontreeyapas into a share of the lead with fellow-Thai and defending champion Eila Galitsky and Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Wei Wu on a thrilling opening day at the sixth Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship.

A member of the gold medal-winning Thai team at last year’s Southeast Asian Games, 18-year-old Soontreeyapas used her pitching wedge to ‘ace’ the 110-yard 7th hole at Siam Country Club’s (SCC) immaculately presented Waterside Course.

Buoyed by that masterstroke, Soontreeyapas went on to sign for a five-under-par 67 – a score that was matched by Galitsky and Wu.

Low-scoring day

On a day of low scoring, 11 players in the elite 90-strong field shot rounds in the 60s and no fewer than 31 bettered par at the venue that also hosted the WAAP in 2022.

After overcoming the worst of the conditions in the early afternoon, Galitsky narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th that would have given her the outright lead. Nevertheless, she is well placed in her bid to become the first player to win the region’s most prestigious women’s amateur championship on two occasions.

“I’m very pleased. I was bogey-free - I haven't had one of those in a while. A couple of putts could have dropped, but all in all really pleased,” said the 17-year-old.

Other pre-tournament favourites also in red figures heading into Friday’s second round include Indian Avani Prashanth, Rianne Mikhaela Malixi of the Philippines, Korean Minsol Kim, Australian Justice Bosio and Japan’s Mizuki Hashimoto, the 2021 Champion.
Round One in 60 | Eila Galitsky | Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific 2024

Home hole-in-one

But the shot of the day was executed by Soontreeyapas, winner of last year’s Singapore Open Women’s Amateur and currently 177th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®).

“I thought it was impossible, but it actually happened,” said Soontreeyapas of her ace on the shortest of the par-3’s on the course, where she missed the cut in 2022. It was the second hole-in-one of the Thai’s career and the fifth in WAAP history. It was also the second at the SCC’s 7th hole, following Malaysian Jeneath Wong, who achieved the feat in 2022.

For her part, Wu surpassed her expectations, both on and off the course. “I’m happy I played well today, and I’m especially happy with my driver and irons,” said the 19-year-old who started 2024 by finishing sixth in a professional event in her home country and tied-11th in the Australian Amateur to rise to 264th in the WAGR.

Not only did Wu have cause to be happy with her 67, but also with the way she handled her post-round media obligations, answering questions in English, which she’d spent ten minutes practising before facing the cameras. On completing the interview, she cheered and jumped up and down with joy.

The tone for the day’s low scoring was set by the first group out with Thai Pimpisa Rubrong and New Zealander Amy Im both returning four-under-par 68s.

“I felt a little bit nervous because I was the first to tee-off in the first group at 7.30am,” said Rubrong, who had a 4am wake-up call. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, she didn’t put a foot wrong from tee to green, draining four birdies. “I hit every green (in regulation), but I missed a lot of birdies, so I only managed four-under.”

China’s Yahui Zhang looked set to emulate Rubrong’s bogey-free round until dropping a shot at the 9th, her final hole of the day. “I’m pretty happy, but I think it's not good enough because I had more chances to make birdies,” she said.

The 68s of Pimpisa, Zhang, Bosio, Im and Japan’s Hinano Muguruma were matched by Prashanth, who was paired alongside Kim and Malixi in the marquee morning group. Kim, fourth in the WAGR, and Malixi (42nd) both signed for 70s to end the day in a share of 12th place.

Recovery key for Indian hopeful

It was a particularly commendable effort from Prashanth, who displayed courage and mental fortitude to maintain her equilibrium after a confidence-sapping bogey at the par-5 10th – her first hole of the championship, where she sank an eight-foot putt to restrict the damage after three poor shots.

“The way I started on the 10th, I was quite confused about how the day was going to go. I was really happy last night thinking I'm going to tee-off on a par-5. But I duck hooked my drive,” said Prashanth, who was only able to advance her ball 100 yards with her second shot from the rough.

Her travails were not over. She hooked her three-wood third shot into the left fairway bunker from where her escape came up short of the green. “I finally made an up-and-down from 35 yards for bogey. Not how I wanted to start. After the first three shots I told myself that the championship isn't won on the first hole. You have 71 more to go.

“Then I took control of my round and, thankfully, I started making some putts,” added Prashanth, who was inspired by the quality of golf of her playing partners. “The standard of golf was amazing. They both started with two birdies and they pushed me. There was some great golf out there.”

Chun-Wei Wu - Chinese Taipei

“I’m happy I played well today, and I’m especially happy with my driver and irons.”

Major chance

The winner of this week’s WAAP will receive exemptions into three major championships in 2024 - the AIG Women’s Open at St Andrews, the Amundi Evian Championship in France and the Chevron Championship in the United States of America.

The winner will also receive invitations to a handful of other elite championships such as the Hana Financial Group Championship, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, The 121st Women’s Amateur Championship and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

This week’s starting line-up consists of 90 players representing 22 countries and territories. Among them are ten of the top-50 and 21 of the top-100 in the latest WAGR standings.

In the first five editions of the WAAP, players from Thailand (Atthaya Thitikul and Galitsky), Japan (Yuka Yasuda and Hashimoto) and Chinese Taipei (Ting-Hsuan Huang) have held aloft the sought-after trophy.
The WAAP championship was developed by The R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to inspire future generations of women golfers. The R&A is supported by championship event partners that share its commitment to developing golf in the Asia-Pacific. The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is proudly supported by Hana Financial Group, ISPS Handa, Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings, Puma, Samsung, Singha, Ricoh and Rolex. 
For more information on the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, visit the championship website at www.randa.org/WAAP