Avani Prashanth shoots third under par round but slips to 11th at WAAP

Avani Prashanth of India plays a tee shot on day three of The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship at Siam Country Club on February 03, 2024 in Chon Buri, Thailand. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Pattaya, Feb 3: Avani Prashanth endured a tough day but still managed a third straight under par score at the 2024 Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championships (WAAP). Avani, who had 68-69 on the first two days shot 1-under 71 with just two birdies, one of which was a hole out from the bunker on the second, and one bogey on the Par-5 eighth.

Avani is now 8-under and placed 11th as Chinese Taipei’s Chun-wei Wu (66) was on the top at 18-under. She was being chased by Philippines diminutive Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, who holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the Par-5 10th, in her record round of 9-under 63. Malixi is 14-under and second.

On a day of low scoring for the top players, China’s Zhang Yahui (66) and Korea’s Hyosong Lee (67) were tied third at 13-under, while Thailand’s Pimpisa Rubrong (68) was fifth.

India’s Saanvi Somu, just 15, and playing her first WAAP, shot 75 and is tied 48th. Saanvi had two birdies against five bogeys.

The star of the day was Malixi, whose coach is Asia-based Canadian Rick Gibson, a multiple winner in Asia in the 1990s, and twice runner-up at the Indian Open. Malixi, had a bogey free round with seven birdies and an eagle, laughed and said, “It was pretty simple. Just very consistent throughout the round today. Phenomenal iron play today made things a lot easier. I think that was the key.”

She was thrilled to have shot the lowest round in the tournament’s history and said, “Honestly hasn’t sunk in yet, but I feel very grateful and honoured.”

Winner of the Australian Masters of Amateurs last month, Malixi was third at the same course in 2022 WAAP. She commented, “This course really fits my eye. It’s a really draw bias course, so it works in my favour. I think really good iron play is such a huge key to this week. Hopefully putts will drop.”

In contrast, Avani said, “I hit probably every fairway, but my approaches were just either too long or too short. Everything in the line of the pin, which is very frustrating. I couldn’t convert after hitting it that far off. Otherwise, it’s a good thing that I hit all fairways. Hopefully, tomorrow is better, and I’ll just go work on my approaches now.”

On the positives seeing so many others go very low, Avani added, “Definitely does give confidence. I know I can shoot low. After hitting every fairway, I gave myself a chance on every single hole. I have to get my approaches close, and I’ll start making a lot more putts. That should get me my low round tomorrow.”

The Bengaluru golfer, who has already got an invite for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which is one of the prizes for the winner this week, said her plan for the day was clear. “I’ve got nothing to lose, just go for the kill on every hole,” said Avani, who flies to Kenya next week to play the Magical Kenya Ladies Open, a Ladies European Tour pro event, where she was in Top-10 last year.

On an action-packed day Thailand’s Novaporn Soontreeyapas (69) got her second hole-in-one in three rounds. After acing the Par-3 seventh on the first day, she got another hole-in-one on Par-3 16th. She is tied eighth with World No. 4 Minsol Kim and another Thai Achiraya Sriwang (69) at 9-under. Avani Prashanth is 11th.

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