Natthakritta among WAAP contenders
published : 21 Sep 2022 at 04:00
newspaper section: Sports
Natthakritta Vongtaveelap will lead the Thai challenge at the fourth Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship in Pattaya in November.
The event has attracted a strong field, which includes 22 of the top-100 players in the world amateur rankings.
To be played on Siam Country Club's Waterside Course from Nov 3-6, the event will feature 71 golfers from 22 countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
South Korea's Lim Ji-Yoo, with three wins in the past year, is the highest-ranked player in the field at world No.8 but all eyes will be on world No.48 Natthakritta, who is eager to make amends for her second place finish at last year's championship in Abu Dhabi.
Natthakritta, who has the ability to hit the ball a long way off the tee, was leading by three shots going into the final round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club before being reeled in by Japan's Mizuki Hashimoto at the closing stages.
The Thai eventually settled for tied second alongside compatriot Kan Bunnabodee and Australia's Kelsey Bennett.
Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul won the inaugural WAAP in 2018. Natthakritta and Oklahoma State University star Rina Tatematsu, the world No.81, are two of the eight players from the host country hoping to follow in her footsteps.
Natthakritta, 19, said: "Women's golf in Thailand is very strong right now. We are not short of inspiration. From [sisters] Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn to Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya, we have superstars who are amazing role models for all of us.
"The WAAP is a great opportunity for us so early in our careers. We all dream of playing major championships and the girl who wins will be able to play two out of the five next year."
The champion will be invited to play at the Women's British Open and the Evian Championship, as well as the Augusta National Women's Amateur and the Hana Financial Group Championship.
The other Thais in the field are Taglao Jeeravivitaporn, Pimpisa Rubrong, Navaporn Soontreeyapas, Suvichaya Vinijchaitham, Achiraya Sriwong and Elia Galitsky.
Japan will once again send out a strong contingent of six players headed by No.17 Saki Baba, who won the US Women's Amateur last month.