Jeong and Jean lead at halfway stage

Yunji Jeong / Photo by Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific

Korea’s Yunji Jeong and Thai prodigy Atthaya ‘Jean’ Thitikul are tied for the lead on six-under-par after today’s second round of the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.

Jeong shot a 67 while Thitikul carded a 71 at the New Tanjong course to top the leaderboard by one shot from Korea’s Ayean Cho (68) and Boston College star Lois Kaye Go (67) of the Philippines. Two more Koreans – Hae-ran Ryu (70) and Oklahoma-based Yujeong Son (68) – lie joint fifth on four-under-par with Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (69).

The shy, soft-spoken Jeong, who wears thick-rimmed glasses, joined Atthaya in the lead with a bogey-free round.

“I’m happy to not make any bogeys, but I’m not satisfied because I was struggling with my putting,” said the 17-year-old Jeong. “If I putted well, I could have shot seven-under or eight-under. I had so many chances.”

After leading with an opening 65, Thitikul – who turned 15 on Tuesday – continued to sing, dance and joke with experienced Thai caddie Roongroj ‘Yod’ Boonsri as she again played nerve-free golf with the casual air of a youngster just enjoying the game.

“I’m feeling really good, but today the location of the holes is so hard. All the things went so good, only the putter was not really good on the first nine holes,” said Thitikul, who won the SEA Games individual and team gold medals in Malaysia last August.

Malaysia’s Natasha Andrea Oon shot a 72 to lie in joint ninth place on one-under-par with New Zealand’s Wenyung Keh (72). The bubbly Oon was happy to remain in the top 10 – especially as her parents thought she may not even make the cut, which came at eight-over.

“Before this, my parents thought, are you going to make the cut?! They were stressed, but I knew I was pretty safe,” smiled the 16-year-old.

With four out of six starters making the halfway cut, the Malaysian team has much to be proud of. Joining Oon into the final 36 holes are Liyana Azizan Durisic (144 – 71, 73), Geraldine Wong Xiao Xuan (149 – 76, 73) and Qistina Balqis Azhar (150 – 74, 76). Winnie Ng (151 – 76, 75) and Ashley Lau Jen Wen (151 – 75, 76) missed the cut by just one shot.

The winner will earn invitations to both the ANA Inspiration (29 March-1 April) at Mission Hills Country Club in California and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (2-5 August) at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in England, as well as next week’s 11th HSBC Women’s World Championship, also at Sentosa Golf Club.

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been developed by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) and The R&A to nurture talent and provide a pathway for the region’s elite female amateurs to the international stage.

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