Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

Thitikul becomes world number one as WAAP comes to Thailand

The R&A
01 Nov 22
3 mins

On 24 February, 2018 a 15-year-old Atthaya Thitikul became the first Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) champion and now just four years later, on the eve of this year’s championship, the Thai star has become world number one. 

The championship was developed by The R&A and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to give the leading women’s amateurs in the region the chance to shine on a world class stage but no-one expected that within just 56 months a player from that inaugural championship would reach number one in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. As WAAP is about to get underway at Siam Country Club in Pattaya, Thailand this week,  the 19-year-old Thitikul has done just that, reaching the summit of the women’s ranking for the first time this week.  Thitikul’s assent is a huge inspiration to her fellow Thai players and the entire field of  86 top players from 21 countries.

Early success

Not only did Bangkok resident Thitikul win the first WAAP, she also finished second in the 2019 edition in Japan. In her first season as a professional on the Ladies European Tour, she won the Race to the Costa del Sol (Order of Merit), Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year Awards. In 2022, she has already won two titles in her first season on the LPGA Tour. Thitikul is only the second player under the age of 20 to reach number one at 19 years, eight months and 11 days. New Zealand’s Lydia Ko was 17 years, nine months and nine days when she first reached number one in February 2015. At 14 years and four months, Thitikul became the youngest golfer to ever win a professional golf tournament at the LET’s Thailand Championship in 2017.
Thitikul has won twice on the LPGA Tour this season which has helped propel her to the top of the world rankings.

Hopes quickly realised

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We had great hopes when we played the first Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship in 2018 because we knew how many talented elite women amateurs there are in this region. We thought there were players who could progress to the highest levels of the sport in time but the speed at which some of the top players have succeeded has been incredible. “Atthaya is a wonderful golfer and personality and deserves enormous credit for reaching number one in the world. We couldn’t be more proud to see our inaugural champion do so well, so quickly and I can’t wait to see what else she goes on to achieve.” Thitikul’s triumph was followed in 2019 by Japan’s Yuka Yasuda when she won on home soil and Mizuki Hashimoto in Abu Dhabi in 2021.  Others to have played in the championship have gone on to win major championships already, with Yuka Saso winning the US Women’s Open and Patty Tavatankit the ANA Inspiration last year.

WAAP 2022

Saki Baba, Japan’s US Amateur Championship winner and the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) number four, is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, followed by her compatriot Yuna Araki at number 12. Korea’s Jiyoo Lim is the highest-ranked non-Japanese player at number 14, while Thailand’s challenge will be led by Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, who is 36th on the WAGR. The WAAP championship was developed by The R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to inspire future generations of women golfers and provides the champion with an unparalleled launchpad early in their career through exemptions into multiple women’s major championships and other elite amateur championships.   The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is proudly supported by Rolex, Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings, Trust Golf, Hana Financial Group and Samsung. For more information on the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, visit the championship website at www.randa.org/WAAP.