Singapore, March 8 (IANS) Avani Prashanth, already in the Top-100 of the world at 77th, is keen to get better and better and maybe even feature in Top-10. And her presence has the rest of the team raring to go in the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship.
The 16-year-old Bengaluru girl knows that the WAAP is a marquee event in this part of the world, and could be the big stage. After winning the Queen Sirikit Cup individual section, Avani desires the top spot at the WAAP, which does not hold great memories for her.
Avani coming into last year’s event had a fever on the first day itself and missed the cut. She wants to put that disappointment behind her.
“I was very disappointed when I played last year, but I felt sick on the first day of the event, so I had no chance of competing because I wasn’t at my best. And then coming in from last week puts me in a very positive mindset and that’s what I’m planning on carrying on into the week,” she was quoted as saying in a media release.
Avani’s teammates are the US-based Anika Varma, Nishna Patel, Mannat Brar, Vidhatri Urs and Lavanya Jadon. Anika, Avani and Nishna are all making their third trip to the WAAP and Mannat is here for the second time.
Anika, whose ninth place at the 2021 event in Abu Dhabi, is the best by an Indian at WAAP, missed the event last year.
“It’s a very, very nice course. I love the greens. I love the layout. So it’s going to be a fun week and I think the main test is the walk because it’s going to be a lot of pushing the trolley uphill and downhill. So if I manage that, I think I’ve got the course. I’ve made a pretty good plan for the course and, yeah, I’m excited for the week,” said Avani after the practice.
Chinese Taipei’s Ting-Hsuan Huang is the defending champion. The 18-year-old won the title in sensational fashion last year at Siam Country Club in Thailand, when she mounted a late charge and made six birdies in her last 11 holes on Sunday.
That win got her exemptions into three major championships this year — AIG Women’s Open, the Amundi Evian Championship and the Chevron Championship — as well as the Hana Financial Group Championship and an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA).
“This week, I am just going to enjoy playing with my partners and just have fun. The challenge for us this week is that we have to push our own trolleys and the golf course is very hilly. I just want to stay hydrated and not get impatient,” a calm and composed Huang.
Minsol Kim, the highest-ranked Korean in the field at world number 15, finished sixth individually in the Queen Sirikit Cup. She will not be short of motivation, after watching her idol and mentor Jin Young Ko win the Women’s Championship a few miles down the road in Singapore last week.
“We shared a room in Vietnam where the Korean national team was doing its winter training, and I asked her a lot of questions. Not only am I personally close to her, she’s also someone I really respect and admire. She is one of the top players in the world, but it’s her hard work and her attitude towards golf that is inspirational for me,” said Kim, who opened with a 64 in the LPGA’s BMW Ladies Championship last year and finished inside the top-ten.
“She makes me want to practice harder and focus more on my game. I was watching her winning last week in Singapore and since I know how much she was struggling (with an injury last year), I was also crying with her,” she added.
Prashanth plays her first round at 8.36 am with Kim and world number four Rin Yoshida of Japan.