Avani Prashanth and Anika Varma during the practice round ahead of the 2023 Womens Amateur Asia Pacific. Pics: WAAP/ R&A
Singapore, March 7: Avani Prashanth has begun drawing a lot of attention, even though she is not the leading world ranked amateur in the field for the high profile Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific (WAAP) at the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC). Her win by 10 shots at the Queen Sirikit Cup, installs her as one of the contenders this week.
The World No. 77, Avani, is accompanied by the US-based Anika Varma, Nishna Patel, Mannat Brar, Vidhatri Urs and Lavanya Jadon. They are accompanied by the Amanpreet Kaur, the manager sent by the Indian Golf Union.
Four of the six members have played the WAAP before. Anika, who missed the 2022 WAAP, is back. Avani, Nishna and Mannat Brar played the 2022 edition.
Anika, Avani and Nishna are all making their third trip to the WAAP and Mannat is here for the second time. Anika has the best result by an Indian a ninth place at the 2021 event in Abu Dhabi, where Avani, too, logged her best of T-16.
A field of 85 players from 22 countries are playing the event this week and 18 of the players, including Avani Prashanth are in the top-100 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).
Avani, who became the first Indian in 43rd editions of the Queen Sirikit Cup to win the individual section of the competition, also steered the team to its best ever position of second place.
The lanky Bengaluru girl teen arrived Tuesday morning after appearing for a school examination on Monday in her home town.
Avani, despite an exhausting schedule, she was raring to go and played a practice round and said she “loved the course” and was looking to do well at the event, the winner of which gets exemption into three Majors – the AIG Women’s Open, the Amundi Evian Championship and the Chevron Championship – besides invitations to play the famous Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, the Hana Financial Group Championship and the Women’s Australian Open.
“That is a lot of incentive,” said Avani in between familiarising herself with the front nine and back nines of the SICC.
The week Avani won the individual honours by 10 shots in the Queen Sirikit Cup in Manila, two other girls, who were in the top five were Fiona Zu of New Zealand and Rianne Mikhaela Malixi of the Philippines.
Fiona, who finished second behind the Indian, said, “I’ve played with her in a practice round at the Australian Am in January, and she hits it really far. She’s really consistent with her iron shots, her approaches, so I think that has helped a lot in the Queen Sirikit.”
Rianne, who was tied third in Manila, added, “I am not familiar with her, but knowing that we have a great competitor in the field just keeps the competitive juices flowing, so it’s going to be a good tournament this week.”
Rin Yoshida is the highest-ranked player at WAGR No. four, and she will be playing only her second tournament outside Japan. It’s a similar story with Yahui Zhang of China, who won nine WAGR events in her home country to climb to number 34, but stepped out of China for the first time at last month’s Queen Sirikit Cup in Philippines.