Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

Dynamic young WAAP duo aim to shape future of women's golf in Asia-Pacific

The R&A
30 Jan 24
3 mins

Conclusively proving that age is no barrier in golf is the aim of Jie-En Lin and Sabrina Wong at this week’s sixth Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship.

Making their WAAP debuts at Siam Country Club’s Waterside Course from 1-4 February, Chinese Taipei’s Lin and Hong Kong, China’s Wong are the two youngest players in the elite, 90-strong field. While Lin turned 13 last September, Scotland-based Wong won’t reach her teens until October this year. However, displaying a maturity belying their tender years – both on and off the course – neither could be accused of lacking confidence or being overawed at the esteemed company they’re keeping in the region’s premier amateur event for women. Lin, in particular, has multiple reasons for believing she can contend over the course at which her compatriot Ting-Hsuan Huang triumphed in the fourth edition of the WAAP in late 2022. Although Huang is unable to return to Siam Country Club this week due to college commitments in the United States of America, her presence and influence will be felt by her young compatriot.

Huang inspiration

“I look up to her and am motivated by her winning the WAAP,” said Lin, who this week hopes to benefit from being in possession of the very same yardage book which Huang used en route to her victory here 16 months ago, including the hole-by-hole notes she penned in Chinese characters. “We’ve been referring to it a lot,” said Zheng-Yao Lin, Jie-En’s father and caddie. The ‘handover’ took place last month in Chinese Taipei when Huang returned to play in a professional event. Knowing she would be unable to make the trip to Thailand for the WAAP, she wanted the yardage book to be put to good use and duly forwarded it to Lin. That’s not the only reason why Lin is so bullish, having struck a rich vein of form that has seen her win her last three World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®) events – the 2023 Future Challenge in the final week of last year followed by the Beethoven Invitation and National Future Star Junior Cup, both this month. On the back of that hat-trick of victories, she’s soared almost 300 places in the WAGR in the space of a month, currently at a career-high 467th.

Sabrina Wong - Hong Kong, China

“I’m very happy to be here. It’s much warmer than Scotland. There’s a big difference between playing in Hong Kong and Scotland, where the wind is often quite strong and it rains a lot. I’m still learning and just enjoying myself”

Lin putting the work in

Further fuelling her expectations is the fact that she was the first player to arrive at Siam Country Club last week and had already fitted in two rounds on the Waterside layout before today’s first official practice round. “I like the course and am feeling good. My aim is to make a top-five finish,” said Lin, who describes herself on her Facebook page as ‘a little girl with a big dream’. The same phrase might well be applied to Wong who, nonetheless, is more cautious while discussing her prospects this week, even if her stellar performances around the world over the past 24 months have catapulted her into the Hong Kong, China team squad. Last year Wong won the girls’ 11 age division of the US Kids Golf European Championship in Scotland by 15 shots and the girls’ under-12 division of the Champion of Champions event in Northern Ireland by 12 strokes. In the 2023 Scottish Girls’ Open she won the under-12 title and was runner-up in the under-14 competition.

Wong enjoying warmer climes

“I’m very happy to be here. It’s much warmer than Scotland,” said Wong, who was born in Hong Kong, China but whose family moved to Glasgow primarily to help her golfing development. “There’s a big difference between playing in Hong Kong and Scotland, where the wind is often quite strong and it rains a lot. I’m still learning. I’m just enjoying myself and playing whenever I can." Wong is pleased to have her father, Man, by her side in Thailand this week, as caddie and confidante. “He’s a good caddie,” said Wong, whose goal is to make the cut. Longer-term ambitions include turning professional and representing Hong Kong, China in golf at the Olympic Games.

Major chances await winner

Like many of their rivals in the starting line-up at Siam Country Club, Lin and Wong have been casting envious eyes at the glittering trophies on show for the AIG Women’s Open, the Amundi Evian Championship and the Chevron Championship – the three major championships in 2024 to which this week’s winner will receive exemptions. 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. In the first five editions of the WAAP, players from Thailand (Atthaya Thitikul and Eila Galitsky), Japan (Yuka Yasuda and Mizuki 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