Korea’s Youmin Hwang, China’s Xiaowen Yin lead a strong field in this week’s Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship (WAAP), at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
The fourth and seventh ranked players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) will feature in the third edition of the championship which is organised by The R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC). The championship returns after a year’s gap due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the first round takes place on Wednesday, 10 November.
WAAP is one of the most important events on the calendar for players from the Asia-Pacific region, with the champion golfer securing places in major championships, the AIG Women’s Open and The Amundi Evian Championship, the Hana Bank Championship and an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The championship was won in its inaugural year by Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul, who won the LET’s 2021 Race to Costa Del Sol ranking. The 2018 field also featured Japan’s Yuka Saso and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit who both became major champions this year winning the U.S. Women’s Open and ANA Inspiration, respectively. The 2019 edition of the WAAP was won by Japan’s Yuka Yasuda.
It would be a first for Korea and China if Hwang or Yin were to win. A total of 78 players from 15 nations are taking part this week.
Hwang, winner of the Korean Women's Amateur and Bitgoeuljungheung Cup in back-to-back starts in June and July, is coming off a tied 21st and a tied seventh finish on the Korean LPGA Tour and is looking forward to making a mark on the championship in her first time competing outside of Korea.
“A lot is new because this is my first time playing internationally. This is the first time I have experienced playing on grass like this,” Hwang said. “The emphasis today was on approach shots around the greens and wedge shots within 100 yards as the texture of grass is different. If I focus on myself, I think there will be good results for me.”
Yin has been an unstoppable force back home, where she has not finished outside the top-10 in any of her last 13 starts dating back to the National Amateur Tour Leg 1 in the first week of August 2020.
“Obviously, with so many amazing players from so many countries, the competition is going to be tough,” Yin said.
“I am playing well and my confidence is high. So, let’s see how it goes this week.”
The host UAE team comprises Alia Al Emadi and Hamda Al Suwaidi, who have been a regular part of the national team, and India’s Natalii Gupta and Hannah Cheryl Alanm, who have been nominated by Emirates Golf Federation.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive at The R&A, said, “We are looking forward to a fantastic Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship in Abu Dhabi this week. We have a strong field led by two players in the top-10 in the world and some very talented girls who will be looking to lift the trophy on Saturday.
“Our aims for this championship are to provide a platform for these talented players and, in many cases, aspiring professionals to shine at the same time as inspiring emerging players to learn to compete at the highest level. WAAP has already been incredibly successful in giving a springboard to players like Atthaya Thitikul and Yuka Saso and we are excited to see who will follow in their footsteps in the years to come.”
Taimur Hassan, chairman of APGC, added, “Over the years, our women players have led the way when it comes to major professional championships or global amateur events. We had a wonderful week with our men’s event in Dubai last week and we hope to continue the same at the fantastic Abu Dhabi Golf Club with our leading women golfers.
“After two years of suffering caused by Covid-19, we are delighted that with the help of the Emirates Golf Federation we are able to host this wonderful championship once again.”