They have six players in the field, led by WAGR number 16 Minsol Kim and number 19 Jiyoo Lim. Both Kim and Lim have prior experience of playing in the championship. Kim finished tied 13th in Thailand last year, while Lim endured a heart-breaking final round when a quintuple-bogey 10 on the sixth hole denied her a dream winning debut as she finished five behind champion Huang.
No wonder then that the 17-year-old from Seoul, who idolises American LPGA star Nelly Korda, feels she has some unfinished business in the championship.
“On the last day, I lost five shots because I was greedy on one hole. However, I did not give up until the end and played hard,” said Lim, who had closed with an eagle at Siam Country Club.
“It was a lot of learning for me. I was disappointed at the time but it helped me focus on my golf skills. I understand now that while technique is important your club selection and course management are also extremely important when you are trying to win a golf tournament. I am studying that part more and I look at my experience last year as a positive motivation.
“All our selected national team players are training hard in Chiang Rai, Thailand. I really think one of our national team players will win, especially as they are all so talented. I think we will have good results because all the players, including me, have been working hard on winter training together.”
Sustained Thai success
Another group of players who came out slightly disappointed, but with their heads held high in Pattaya last year, were hosts Thailand which in the four previous championships had a player finish in first or second place.
Singapore holds a special place for the country, with Thitikul writing history when she won the inaugural WAAP title in 2018, then finishing runner-up in her title defence in 2019. The success story was continued by Natthakrita Vongtaveelap, who finished second in 2021 and 2022.
The six-member team is now led by Pattharat Rattanwan who has won in all three of her last tournament starts.She is joined by well-known names Kan Bunnabodee, who finished tied second in Abu Dhabi, and the promising 16-year-old Eila Galitsky.
Rattanwan, who won a remarkable 12 WAGR events in 2022 and never finished outside second place in any of the junior tournaments she played in the past two years, said, “The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is the biggest tournament we play in the region and I loved every minute of it when I was part of the team in Pattaya last year.
“We have some very inspirational role models in this championship already and all of us are so excited that we have the chance to follow in the footsteps of players like Atthaya and Natthakritta.”