Women's Asia-Pacific Am: Eila Galitsky continues 2023 success in the opening round
Eila Galitsky (Royal and Ancient Photo)
Eila Galitsky (Royal and Ancient Photo)

A hole-in-one propelled Navaporn Soontreeyapas into a share of the lead with fellow Thai and defending champion Eila Galitsky and Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Wei Wu on a thrilling opening day at the sixth Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship.

A member of the gold medal-winning Thai team at last year’s Southeast Asian Games, 18-year-old Soontreeyapas used her pitching wedge to ‘ace’ the 110-yard No. 7 at Siam Country Club’s (SCC) immaculately presented Waterside Course.

Low Scoring Day

Buoyed by that masterstroke, Soontreeyapas went on to sign for a 5-under 67 – a score that was matched by Galitsky and Wu.

On a day of low scoring, eleven players in the elite 90-strong field shot rounds in the 60s and no fewer than 31 bettered par at the venue that also hosted the WAAP in 2022.

After overcoming the worst conditions in the early afternoon, Galitsky narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th that would have given her the lead. Nevertheless, she is well-placed in her bid to become the first player to win the region’s most prestigious women’s amateur championship on two occasions.

“I’m very pleased. I was bogey-free - I haven't had one of those in a while. A couple of putts could have dropped, but all in all, really pleased,” said the 17-year-old.

Other pre-tournament favorites also in red figures heading into Friday’s second round include Indian Avani Prashanth, Rianne Mikhaela Malixi of the Philippines, Korean Minsol Kim, Australian Justice Bosio, and Japan’s Mizuki Hashimoto, the 2021 Champion.

Home hole-in-one

But the shot of the day was executed by Soontreeyapas, winner of last year’s Singapore Open Women’s Amateur.

“I thought it was impossible, but it actually happened,” said Soontreeyapas of her ace on the shortest of the par-3s on the course, where she missed the cut in 2022. It was the second hole-in-one of the Thai’s career and the fifth in WAAP history. It was also the second at the SCC’s 7th hole, following Malaysian Jeneath Wong, who achieved the feat in 2022.

For her part, Wu surpassed her expectations, both on and off the course. “I’m happy I played well today, and I’m especially happy with my driver and irons,” said the 19-year-old, who started 2024 by finishing sixth in a professional event in her home country and T11 in the Australian Amateur.

Not only did Wu have cause to be happy with her 67, but also with the way she handled her post-round media obligations, answering questions in English, which she’d spent ten minutes practicing before facing the cameras. 

The tone for the day’s low scoring was set by the first group out with Thai Pimpisa Rubrong and New Zealander Amy Im both returning 4-under 68's.

“I felt a little bit nervous because I was the first to tee-off in the first group at 7.30am,” said Rubrong, who had a 4am wake-up call. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, she didn’t put a foot wrong from tee to green, draining four birdies. “I hit every green (in regulation), but I missed a lot of birdies, so I only managed four-under.”

China’s Yahui Zhang looked set to emulate Rubrong’s bogey-free round until dropping a shot at No. 9, her final hole of the day. “I’m pretty happy, but I think it's not good enough because I had more chances to make birdies,” she said.

The 4-under 68's of Pimpisa, Zhang, Bosio, Im and Japan’s Hinano Muguruma were matched by Prashanth, who was paired alongside Kim and Malixi in the marquee morning group. Kim and Malixi both signed for 2-under 70 to end the day T12.

Recovery key for Indian hopeful

It was a particularly commendable effort from Prashanth, who displayed courage and mental fortitude to maintain her equilibrium after a confidence-sapping bogey at the par-5 No. 10 – her first hole of the championship, where she sank an eight-foot putt to restrict the damage after three poor shots.

“The way I started on the 10th, I was quite confused about how the day was going to go. I was really happy last night thinking I'm going to tee-off on a par-5. But I duck hooked my drive,” said Prashanth, who was only able to advance her ball 100 yards with her second shot from the rough.

Her travails were not over. She hooked her three-wood third shot into the left fairway bunker from where her escape came up short of the green. “I finally made an up-and-down from 35 yards for bogey. Not how I wanted to start. After the first three shots I told myself that the championship isn't won on the first hole. You have 71 more to go.

“Then I took control of my round and, thankfully, I started making some putts,” added Prashanth, who was inspired by the quality of golf of her playing partners. “The standard of golf was amazing. They both started with two birdies and they pushed me. There was some great golf out there.”

Major chance

The winner of this week’s WAAP will receive exemptions into three major championships in 2024 - the AIG Women’s Open at St Andrews, the Amundi Evian Championship in France and the Chevron Championship in the United States of America.

The winner will also receive invitations to a handful of other elite championships such as the Hana Financial Group Championship, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, The 121st Women’s Amateur Championship and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

This week’s starting line-up consists of 90 players representing 22 countries and territories. Among them are ten of the top-50 and 21 of the top-100 in the latest WAGR standings.

In the first five editions of the WAAP, players from Thailand (Atthaya Thitikul and Galitsky), Japan (Yuka Yasuda and Hashimoto) and Chinese Taipei (Ting-Hsuan Huang) have held aloft the sought-after trophy.

Results: Women's Asia-Pacific Amateur
1Chinese TaipeiChun-Wei WuChinese Taipei150067-65-66-72=270
2KoreaHyosong LeeKorea100070-66-67-69=272
3ThailandAchiraya SriwongThailand70070-68-69-66=273
4ThailandPimpisa RubrongThailand70068-68-68-70=274
T5KoreaMinsol KimKorea70070-69-68-68=275

View full results for Women's Asia-Pacific Amateur

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 Confederation.

The winner receives an invitation to play in the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the ANA Inspiration.

View Complete Tournament Information

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