Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

Talented teens target Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific championship title

The R&A
26 Jan 24
3 mins

A quartet of rising golfing stars  are poised to showcase their talent  at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship in Thailand next week.

Teenagers they may still be, but in terms of golfing experience Mamika Shinchi, Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, Avani Prashanth and Eunseo Choi are veritable veterans.

Among the pre-tournament favourites at the sixth edition of the WAAP, Japan’s Shinchi, Malixi of the Philippines, Indian Prashanth and New Zealand’s Choi are all destined for successful careers in golf.

Over the Waterside Course at Siam Country Club (SCC) in Pattaya, Thailand from 1-4 February, the talented quartet all boast the credentials to add their name to the roll of hour in the region’s premier amateur championship.

Given the wealth of experience they’ve already amassed, 16-year-olds Shinchi and Malixi and 17-year-olds Prashanth and Choi will not be phased by the weight of expectancy on their shoulders.

All were early starters in golf – Prashanth picked up a golf club for the first time two months before she turned four, while Shinchi was introduced to the game when she was seven, and Malixi and Choi both discovered the thrill of striking a golf ball for the first time when they were eight.
Bright start to 2024 Other common denominators among the quartet are that they’ve made bright beginnings to 2024 and have bitter-sweet memories of their appearances at SCC when the WAAP was staged there in late 2022.

On that occasion, Malixi tied for third, Shinchi shared ninth place, Choi was joint 27th and Prashanth, suffering an untimely bout of food poisoning, missed the halfway cut.

Some 16 months on, all four have good reason to feel optimistic about improving on those results – and challenging for the most glittering prize in women’s amateur golf in the Asia-Pacific.

For Malixi and Shinchi, in particular, confidence will be sky high in the wake of impressive victories on Australian soil to kick-off their 2024 campaigns.

Pipped at the post in a handful of big events in 2023, Malixi made a dream start to the new year with a thrilling triumph in the Australian Master of the Amateurs.

Although she didn’t win a tournament in 2023, Malixi’s talent was clear for all to see with a succession of outstanding performances. After finishing third individually in the Queen Sirikit Cup at Manila Southwoods, Malixi also finished third at The Royal Junior in Japan before agonisingly missing out on an individual medal at the Southeast Asian Games where she finished fourth. Later in the year, she was runner-up in the US Girls’ Junior Championship.

Thanks to a closing four-under-par 69 at Southern Golf Club in the second week of January 2024, Malixi held her rivals at bay to claim the Green Jacket that is awarded to the Australian Master of the Amateurs champion.

Malixi in-form

“I was always putting myself in contention and then it seemed that I was always caught short of winning the title. To win in Australia I feel very happy. I’m grateful for the experience,” said Malixi, whose 72-hole total of seven-under 285 was one shot ahead of second-placed Prashanth. Kiwi Choi ended joint ninth and Shinchi finished in a share of 24th place.

A week later it was Shinchi who was raising aloft a trophy after producing a stunning final-day birdie barrage to claim a memorable come-from-behind victory in the Australian Amateur championship.

Shinchi made no fewer than ten birdies en route to a closing seven-under-par 66, overturning a six-stroke overnight deficit and equalling the course record at Yarra Yarra Golf Club. With a ten-under-par aggregate of 282, Shinchi ended two shots ahead of Australian Amelia Harris, the runaway third round leader.

“I play without ever giving up. I always have a desire to improve and enjoy things,” said Shinchi.

Meanwhile, Choi’s excellent form continued as she ended equal third, with Malixi in a tie for eighth and Prashanth finishing joint 11th.

On the back of those performances, Shinchi (33), Prashanth (42) and Malixi (43) have all broken into the top-50 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®), while Choi (146) has soared more than 20 spots since the turn of the year and has moved into the top-150.

Major opportunities

Life-changing opportunities await the winner of the WAAP with the champion receiving 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.

In total, 22 countries and territories are represented in this year’s WAAP including, for the first time, Samoa for whom Faith Vui will fly the flag, emulating the feat of her brothers, Niko and Lio Vui, who have both competed in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.

The 18-year-old Faith won last year’s New Zealand Women’s Amateur Championship, the first Samoan to do so.

Also making their WAAP debuts this year are Harmonie Yin who is representing Cambodia, and 12-year-old Sabrina Wong of Hong Kong, China, who will be the youngest player in the field. The international nature of golf today is illustrated by the fact that Yin lives in France and Wong is based in Scotland.

Remarkably, there will be two sets of sisters representing Pakistan – Parkha and Rimsha Ijaz and Abiha and Daniha Syed.

About the championship

More than a third of the players in the field will feel at home having competed at the SCC’s Waterside Course in the fourth iteration of the WAAP in 2022.

In the first five editions of the WAAP, players from Thailand (Atthaya Thitikul and Eila Galitsky), Japan (Yuka Yasuda and Mizuki 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