But the shot of the day was executed by Soontreeyapas, winner of last year’s Singapore Open Women’s Amateur and currently 177th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®).
“I thought it was impossible, but it actually happened,” said Soontreeyapas of her ace on the shortest of the par-3’s 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 tied-11th in the Australian Amateur to rise to 264th in the WAGR.
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 practising before facing the cameras. On completing the interview, she cheered and jumped up and down with joy.
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 four-under-par 68s.
“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 the 9th, 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 68s 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, fourth in the WAGR, and Malixi (42nd) both signed for 70s to end the day in a share of 12th place.
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 10th – 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.”