Japan’s Yuka Yasuda underlined her immense potential with a runaway victory in the second edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship (WAAP), carding a closing 65 for an eight-shot victory over 2018 winner Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand.
The 18-year-old Yasuda was on fire at The Royal Golf Club in Hokata, Japan, making seven birdies in a flawless round to finish on 11-under-par. The win earned her a a spot in two of the five women’s Majors – the AIG Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship – as well as an invitation to the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Thitikul, champion at the inaugural event in Singapore, closed with 71 to finish runner-up at three-under-par, while the Korean duo of Ye Won Lee (70) and Yaeeun Hong (73) were third and fourth respectively.
Malaysia’s Ashley Lau closed with a superb 66 to claim an extremely respectable T12 finish on six-over-par in the elite amateur event. Natasha Andrea Oon was the next best Malaysian in 27th place on 10-over-par after a final round 74, while Liyana Durisic signed off with 75 for 46th place on 20-over-par.
Yasuda paid tribute to the huge galleries that came out to support her. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to win the championship but so many people came out today and they cheered and motivated me and I am happy that I could play some good golf,” she said.
“This is such a huge win for me. I am trying to become a professional golfer and I am sure this is going to open many doors for me in the future. I get the opportunity to play two Major championships with this win and I am so excited about that. That experience will definitely help me become a better player,” added Yasuda.
World No. 9 Thitikul, the highest-ranked player in the field, started with a birdie and then three-putted for a bogey on the second from less than four feet. She played solid golf after that but could not rustle up enough birdies to put any kind of pressure on Yasuda.
“I played okay. I missed some birdie putts but Yasuda played such a solid round and she showed me a great performance,” said Thitikul.. “I am happy. I came in as the defending champion and I enjoyed being here. We played in some very tough conditions and that is going to be a great learning experience for me.”
Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (73), who lost in a play-off to Thitikul last year, was in fifth place at one-over par, while China’s Lei Ye (72) was sixth, one shot behind her.
Australia’s Becky Kay (75), who shot an eight-under par 64 to lead on the opening day, was among four players tied for seventh place along with Abegail Arevalo of the Philippines (70), Ayaka Furue of Japan (72) and Ye-been Sohn of Korea (73).
The WAAP field is 80 players from 19 countries included 17 ranked inside the top-100 of the WAGR. The championship was developed by The R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to unearth emerging talent and provide a pathway for Asia’s elite women amateurs to emerge on the international stage.
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