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Chun-Wei Wu savours Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship Glory

Published at :February 5, 2024 at 6:49 AM
Modified at :February 5, 2024 at 6:49 AM
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Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Wei Wu survived a tense final round to pull off the biggest upset in Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship history.

A modest 264th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), the 19-year-old endured moments of high stress before completing a wire-to-wire success at Siam Country Club’s (SCC) Waterside Course, upstaging a star-studded line-up.

Struggling to find the free-wheeling form she displayed over the first three days, Wu closed with a nervous even-par 72 to secure a victory that will catapult her into the global spotlight in 2024.

After feasting on birdies for the first three days, it proved tough going for Wu to get over the finish line.

Four shots clear of the field following the opening 54 holes – during which she dropped only one stroke – Wu wobbled with four bogeys on a final day rollercoaster ride.

With her lead reduced to a single stroke after 14 holes of the final round, Wu displayed her mettle, digging deep to make crucial birdies at the 15th and 17th, where she began celebrating even before her 28-footer reached its intended target.

“Incredible! This is the first time I’ve won a big tournament,” said Wu, whose 72-hole aggregate of 18-under-par 270 was two strokes clear of runner-up Hyosong Lee, the 15-year-old Korean.

Achiraya Sriwong was a further stroke back in third after a 66, the best round of the final day, with fellow Thai Pimpisa Rubrong, fourth on 14-under-par 274. Rianne Mikhaela Malixi of the Philippines and Korean Minsol Kim ended joint fifth on 13-under-par.

As well as bettering the previous best WAAP winning total of 272 set by Mizuki Hashimoto at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in 2021, Wu is only the second champion to lead on all four days, following Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul in Singapore in 2018. Earlier in the week she also set new championship records for best 36-hole score (132), best middle 36-hole score (131) and best 54-hole score (198).

In addition to winning the Rae-Vadee T. Suwan Champion’s Medal, Wu 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.

Furthermore, she’ll receive invitations to a number of other elite championships including the Hana Financial Group Championship, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, The 121st Women’s Amateur Championship and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Among those who were not surprised at Wu’s success was her compatriot Ting-Hsuan Huang, winner of the 2022 WAAP at SCC.

Huang, unable to be present this week due to a college commitment in the United States of America, said, “I’ve known her since I was ten. We’ve been good friends, growing up together, practicing together, representing the national team in international competitions.

“I’ve also been her practice partner, exchanging skills and seeking advice from each other. I’ve always admired her explosive playing style and accurate putting, often asking her for tips.

“I remember when I was winning in 2022 when we were roommates. She confidently told me she would win next time.”

With such high stakes on offer, it was understandable that the leading contenders should make nervy starts.

After 41 holes without a bogey, Wu dropped shots at the first and third as she saw her overnight lead trimmed in half. A textbook birdie at the par-four fourth, where she wedged to six feet and rolled home the uphill putt, calmed the nerves, a fist pump betraying her relief. Another birdie at the long sixth saw her return to even-par for the day and restore her four-shot advantage.

However, a bogey at the ninth prompted self-doubt to creep back into her mind and a further dropped shot on the 14th gave hope to her closest pursuers, Lee and Sriwong.

Lee herself recovered from a poor opening tee-shot but was left to rue untimely errors at the sixth and 12th as she signed off with a 69 on a course where she finished tied third with Malixi in the 2022 WAAP.

With a brilliant run of five successive birdies from the seventh hole, Sriwong moved to within two of the lead, but a three-putt bogey at the 12th left her with just too much to do.

Playing alongside Wu in the final group, it was a day of frustration for Malixi and China’s Yahui Zhang, neither of whom could buy a putt. Following her record-breaking 63 in round three, Malixi had just one birdie in a 73 while Zhang carded a 74.

Thailand’s Eila Galitsky ended her reign as champion with a 70 to finish in a share of 26th place on four-under-par 284 – three shots behind Japan’s Mizuki Hashimoto, the 2021 champion, who ended tied 14th.

This week’s starting line-up consisted of 90 players representing 22 countries and territories. Among them were 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 (Huang) held aloft the 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. 

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