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Confident and in-form Japanese stars eager to make their mark in Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific

ST ANDREWS (April 24, 2019): A confident home contingent will be aiming to make a huge impact when the second edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship (WAAP) is played at The Royal Golf Club from Thursday.

As the host nation, Japan has eight places in the premier regional amateur championship for women, with recent results and past history indicating they will be the ones to beat come Sunday’s final round.

Yuka Yasuda is the highest-ranked player in the team at No. 13 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and she will be a formidable force after finishing tied third alongside Philippine’s Yuka Saso in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) earlier this month.

Yuna Nishimura is ranked 52nd in the world and was one of four players involved in the play-off that decided the inaugural championship in Singapore. She was the final player to be eliminated by reigning champion Atthaya Thitikul on the third extra hole.

 

However, it will be No. 75 Yuri Yoshida, who will be the focus of attention, having finished second in the Japan Sectional Qualifying and booking one of four available spots for the 2019 US Women’s Open. Yoshida shot rounds of 67 and 76 at the 36-hole qualifier at Ohtone Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture, missing out on a medal by just one shot.

Ayaka Furue, Tsubasa Kajitani, Miyuu Goto, Sae Ogura, and Riri Sadoyama are the other players representing Japan in the championship.

Apart from her tied third place finish at the ANWA, Yasuda was also tied second alongside the world No. 1 Jennifer Kupcho in the World Amateur Team Championship in Ireland last year and fifth in WAAP. She has made it a habit to perform strongly in big events and this week should be no different.

“I think the bigger the tournament and better the field, I have a stronger motivation to do well. And this week is important for all of us as we are hosting such a prestigious tournament,” said Yasuda.

“I don’t feel any pressure at all. I think it will be good for us if we have more fans and families coming in and cheering us.”

Apart from her form, Yoshida will also have the added motivation of getting invited to two more major championships – the AIG Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship – if she manages to top the podium come Sunday. The champion also gets an invite to the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“For the Last few months, I was trying to peak towards this week because the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific is a big tournament for us. The fact that I played so well and qualified for the US Women’s Open shows that I am in good form,” said the Ichikawa City-based player on Monday.

“While I’d love to get the chance to play in two more majors, I cannot play thinking about the result. I am just going to focus on my process and hopefully, my game will be good enough to win.”

Nishimura wanted to make up for the opportunity she missed in Singapore.

“I was really disappointed and sad after the finish last year, but it was also a very good learning for me,” said Nishimura.

“I must admit that I am feeling a bit nervous because everyone expects me to do well after last year’s result and also because we are playing at home. I just want to give it my best shot and let’s see what happens after that.”

The first round of the championship, which has an ‘Elite’ status in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), begins Thursday, April 25. The first tee is at 08:30 local time.

Defending champion and world number nine Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand will go out from the first tee at 10:10 along with Yasuda, the second highest ranked player in the field (No. 13), and Chinese Taipei’s No. 43 Yu-Chiang Hou.

Another group to watch out for includes the double Asian Games gold medal winner and world No. 34 Yuka Saso of The Philippines. She tees off at 10:00 from the tenth tee along with Korea’s world No. 38 Seo-yun Kwon and Doey Choi of Australia.

The field for the championship is 80 players from 19 countries and includes 16 ranked inside the top-100 of the WAGR.

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been 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.

The R&A launched the Women in Golf Charter last year and is committed to increasing the participation of women in the sport. The WAAP is one of several key championships conducted by the governing body and a significant initiative along with the APGC to drive the popularity of women’s golf in the region.

Kabaya Ohayo Group and Rolex are the championship’s Official Scoring Partners; Galaxy is a Patron Partner; and Evian is Official Water Supplier. IMG assists with championship staging and TV broadcast.

For more information on the championship, visit the website at randa.org/WAAP. For updates, like the championship’s Facebook page and follow @WAAPGolf on Twitter and Instagram. Entry to the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is free of charge.

Images courtesy of The R&A.

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