Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

Record day as Wu storms to halfway lead at Siam

The R&A
02 Feb 24
3 mins

Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Wei Wu claimed sole possession of top spot at the halfway stage of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship after a stunning finale to her second round.

Playing in the last group of the day, the 19-year-old birdied her final three holes to add a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 to her opening 67 at Siam Country Club’s (SCC) Waterside Course.

Records tumble at WAAP

Her 36-hole aggregate of 12-under-par 132 bettered the WAAP record for the previous best two-round total of 134 set by Thai Natthakritta Vongtaveelap at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in 2021.

It also enabled Wu to open up a two-shot lead from Japan’s Hinano Muguruma heading into the weekend in the region’s most prestigious women’s amateur championship.

Two strokes further back in joint third are Thai Pimpisa Rubrong and Korean Hyosong Lee with Indian Avani Prashanth and China’s Yahui Zhang in equal fifth on 137.

Among four players tied for seventh on 138 is Korean Hyojin Yang who had the distinction of matching Wu for the best round of the championship to date, her 65 highlighted by an eagle-three at the 18th where she holed her wedge approach for an inward 31.

Struggles for Galitsky

Defending champion Eila Galitsky’s hopes of becoming the first two-time winner of the WAAP suffered a setback. Joint first round leader with fellow-Thai Navaporn Soontreeyapas and Wu, Galitsky stuttered to a second round three-over 75, leaving her in a share of 24th place, ten shots off the pace.

For much of the afternoon it looked like Muguruma would be the pace-setter heading into the weekend. But Wu had other ideas. She birdied the short 7th – her 16th of the day – to draw level at the top and then moved to the summit when she picked up another shot at the long 8th.

As her 18-footer for birdie on the 9th green disappeared below ground, a huge smile broke out across Wu’s face after what she described as the round of her life.
Round Two in 60 | Pimpisa Rubrong | Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific 2024

Best round of Wu’s life

“That’s the lowest score I’ve ever had. I’m very happy with my putting, it was very good today,” said Wu, a close friend of Ting-Hsuan Huang, the Chinese Taipei player who won the WAAP when it was first staged at Siam Country Club in 2022.

Wu, 264th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®), is now setting her sights on emulating her compatriot who was unable to be in Thailand this week due to college commitments in the United States of America.

But she can expect tough competition from 21-year-old Muguruma, 22nd in the WAGR, the second highest-ranked player in the field, behind only Korean Minsol Kim (fourth).

Smiling her way around the sun-baked Waterside Course, Muguruma started and closed her second round with runs of three successive birdies.

Despite frequently being outdriven by up to 30 yards by playing partners Galitsky and Korean Soomin Oh, Muguruma never deviated from her gameplan. “My shots were better than yesterday and I played with good rhythm. I wasn’t thinking about my score,” she said.

Muguruma sets early target

One shot off the pace in a tie for fourth overnight, Muguruma was immediately into her stride on day two. Setting out on the back nine, she made birdies at 10, 11 and 12 to sweep to the top of the leaderboard for the first time before a bogey at 15 – the only blemish on her scorecard – briefly stalled her progress.

But she played her final nine holes impeccably, hitting every fairway and green in regulation. A birdie at the 1st – her 10th of the day – set the tone and after five successive stress-free pars she finished with a flourish. At the short 7th she was within six inches of a hole-in-one; at the 8th she converted from three feet and a curling left-to-right 20-footer at the 9th completed a tremendous round.

As Muguruma made her exit to polite applause, Galitsky was close to tears as she traipsed off the final green, receiving a consoling hug from father, Gary, after an uncharacteristically uneven display.

In stark contrast to Muguruma’s jovial demeanour, Galitsky’s body language told a story of frustration – head-shakes and anguished looks to the skies accompanying a succession of wayward drives and missed putts.

“Nothing felt right today. Bad tee shots, bad second shots and I left myself in difficult places on the greens,” explained the defending champion and joint first-round leader, who was four-over on the par-5s, including a double-bogey seven at the long 18th where she pulled her second into water and missed a short putt.

On the positive side, she has 36 holes remaining to mount a challenge. She said, “I’m playing the weekend, so after today’s round, I’m pretty thankful for that. I know I can do well and hope I can get something going the next two days.”

Hinano Muguruma - Japan

“My shots were better than yesterday and I played with good rhythm. I wasn’t thinking about my score.”

No fairytale for youngster

The half-way cut for the leading 50 players and ties fell at two-over-par 146 – a two-stroke improvement on the cut-off point when the championship was first staged here in 2022.

Among those to miss out was 12-year-old Sabrina Wong from Hong Kong, China, the youngest player in the field. “There was something wrong with my swing and I lost focus in the middle of the round because of the heat,” said the Scotland-based youngster who followed an opening 74 with an 80. “But the overall experience was great. I made a lot of new friends and played with some wonderful players.”

Also failing to progress were Harmonie Yin (150) and Faith Vui (153), the first players from Cambodia and Samoa respectively to participate in the WAAP.

Major opportunities await champion

The winner on Sunday will be rewarded with starts in 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.

She’ll 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 consisted 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.
The WAAP championship was developed by The R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to inspire future generations of women golfers. The R&A is supported by championship event partners that share its commitment to developing golf in the Asia-Pacific. The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship is proudly supported by Hana Financial Group, ISPS Handa, Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Holdings, Puma, Samsung, Singha, Ricoh and Rolex. 
For more information on the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, visit the championship website at www.randa.org/WAAP