Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and her close friend Suvichaya Vinijchaitham will carry the hopes of host nation Thailand into the final round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship on Sunday.
Vongtaveelap (68) birdied the last two holes and finished on an eight-under par total of 208, where she was joined by Vinijchaitham (69), Chinese Taipei’s Ting-Hsuan Huang (70) and Korea’s Jiyoo Lim (72) at the top of the leaderboard to set up an exciting final round at Siam Country Club’s Waterside Course.
Philippine’s Rianne Mikhaela Malixi (70) is in fifth place at seven-under, while Korea’s Yeji Park, who had the best round of the day with a five-under par 67, jumped to tied sixth place at 211 with Japan’s Mamika Shinchi and Australian Kelsey Bennett (72).
Defending champion Mizuki Hashimoto’s chances of winning a second straight WAAP title were dented over the back nine. Two ahead of the field after 12 holes, the Japanese World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) number 16 dropped six shots in her last six holes. A five-over par 77 dropped her to tied ninth place at four-under par but a chip in for par from the back of the 18th green kept her in contention.
Fun and competitive day ahead
The 19-year-old Vongtaveelap, who started with a bogey on the first but then made six birdies and another bogey, is eager to make up for her missed opportunity last year in Abu Dhabi, where an untidy back nine in the final round left her tied second.
“I was so nervous at the start today. On the first hole, from 45 yards, my hands shook as I hit a pretty simple chip shot. My caddie had to calm me down after that,” said Vongtaveelap, who turns 20 next Wednesday and is the highest-ranked Thai player in the field at 38.
“I really want to win tomorrow. It would mean a lot for me, especially as the tournament is being played in my home country. I thought a lot about my Abu Dhabi finish and one of the things I can surely change is how I fuel myself. I did not have proper energy towards the end last year and dropped shots coming in. I want to make sure I eat well and hydrate myself properly tomorrow.
“It will be so much fun playing with Suvichaya, who has become a very close friend of mine in the past two years that we have been in the Thai national team together.”
Vinijchaitham, 16, who has home schooling so that she can get more time to practice her golf, made four birdies and a solitary bogey in her 69. She said, “I am so proud of what I have done so far. I honestly came into the tournament thinking that making the cut would be a great achievement so it is a surprise that I find myself leading.
“I was struggling with a few injuries and haven’t really played any good golf in the last two years. But I have continued to work hard and I could feel my game coming back towards the end of last year.”
Huang, also 16, took the lead when she chipped-in for a birdie on the par-3 12th hole, but a bogey on the 14thsaw her slip back to eight-under par.
“I really want to have that chance,” said Huang when reminded that she could get into the AIG Women’s Open and the Amundi Evian Championship with a win tomorrow. “I just need to keep playing my game and be aggressive.”
Lim in contention
Lim could not find a birdie on the first seven holes and then dropped shots on the par-5 8th, where she pushed her second shot from center of the fairway into the water, and another on the 9th hole.
But she bounced back with two birdies on the back nine and said, “I am happy that on the second nine both my driver and putter were much better compared to the first nine. That’s a good sign. There were many opportunities to make birdies on the back nine but I’m satisfied with the way I bounced back after the front nine.”
Saki Baba, the highest-ranked player in the field at number three in the WAGR, made one birdie and two bogeys in a round of 73 and dropped down to tied 25th place at even-par.
ABOUT THE Women's Asia-Pacific Amateur
The inaugural Women's Asia-Pacific Amateur
Championship was played in 2018.
It is played over 72-holes stroke play with the field
to comprise 86 players. Players are eligible based on
their R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking.
It is conducted by the Asia-Pacific Golf
The winner receives an invitation to play in the Ricoh
Women’s British Open and the ANA Inspiration.
View Complete Tournament Information