HOKOTA (Japan): Defending champion Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand and local favourite Yuka Yasuda headline a strong field going into the second edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) Golf Championship, which tees off tomorrow in Hokota.
The championship is ranked as an elite event in the women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) and will be played at the Royal Golf Club.
The 17 players ranked inside the top 100 of the WAGR will be in this week’s field.
Atthaya and Yasuda are the highest ranked at ninth and 13th respectively.
Among the other leading players are the Philippines’ Yuka Saso (29th), Taiwan’s Hou Yu-chiang (43rd), Australia’s Grace Kim (69th) and China’s Lei Ye (77th).
There is also a strong South Korean contingent led by Kwon Seo-yun (38th) and two others in the top 100 – Hong Yae-eun (82nd) and Seo Uh-jin (99th).
Yasuda, 18, finished fifth at the inaugural WAAP at Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club last year.
The tournament which ended in a playoff was won by Atthaya.
Yasuda, who won the Women’s Australian Master of the Amateurs in January, comes into the WAAP in good form, having finished tied third with Saso at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) in the United States early this month.
“It is a matter of great pride that so many girls from Asia are playing well in tournaments across the globe,” said Yasuda.
“I think it is the result of having set up an environment in which we can play golf happily. There are many good players of my generation and it will be an exciting championship. “I will be playing at the Royal Golf Club for the first time. However, if I can play like I know I am capable of, I think I can do well.”
The winner will earn a place in two of the five women’s Majors – the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship in France later this year.
The Malaysians playing are Loy Hee Ying, Liyana Durisic, Mirabel Ting Ern Hui, Natasha Andrea Oon and Vinisha Gunaseelan.