Avani seeks one more shot at the iconic Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific title

The Indian women’s team at the 2024 Womens Amateur Asia Pacific golf at Siam Country Club in Pattaya, Thailand. Pic: V Krishnaswamy

Picture: From Left: Keerthana Rajeev, Vidhatri Urs, Avani Prashanth, Heena Kang, Manager Vandana Agarwal, Mannat Brar and Saanvi Somu. 

Pattaya, Thailand, Jan 30: Avani Prashanth is looking forward to a packed calendar over the next few weeks as she criss-crosses across the continent in search of golfing glory at one of the world’s best amateur events. The 17-year-old Bengaluru golfer, who started 2024 with two weeks in Australia, where she came close to winning once, and is now all set to tee off at the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific (WAAP) golf.

Making her fourth appearance at an event, the winner of which earns berths into three of the five women’s Majors, Avani feels that this event owes her one good finish before she moves on in her career.

For now, the focus for Avani and her five teammates fielded by the Indian Golf Union, is the WAAP. Her teammates are Vidhatri Urs, Mannat Brar, Keerthana Rajeev Nair, Saanvi Somu and Heena Kang will tee off at the Siam Country Club. The team is accompanied by former National Champion, Vandana Agarwal.

The top stars this week will include World No. 4 Minsol Kim of Korea, Japan’s Hinano Muguruma (22nd), Sayaka Teraoka (23), Mamika Shinchi (33), Rin Yoshida (38) and defending champion from Thailand Eila Galitsky (40th). India’s Avani, is 42nd and Rianne Malixi of the Philippines is 43rd.

Ranked 42nd among World Amateurs Avani was also thrilled with having received a special invite to the Augusta National Women Amateur championships which is held a week before the storied Masters at the Augusta National.

Immediately after the 2024 WAAP, she will be off for the Magical Kenya Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour. She finished in the Top-10 last year.

After that she has on her schedule another well-known amateur event, the Sage Valley Invitational next week.

She started 2024 with a runner-up finish at the Australian Masters of Amateurs and missed a Top-10 by a whisker at the Australian Amateur Championships.

While this is the fourth appearance at WAAP for Avani, it is the second one for Vidhatri and Mannat. The other three Keerthana Rajeev Nair, Saanvi Somu and Heena Kang are making their debut at WAAP. Interestingly, Ceerat’s sister, Heena has played at the WAAP in 2022 at the same course.

Vidhatri’s cousin Pranavi Urs, now a pro on LET, has also played at the WAAP in the past.

Avani coming off her nine-hole practice round just before the rains came, “Somehow I have not managed to finish better than T-16,” said Avani, who won the 2023 Queen Sirikit Individuals besides picking a title on a women’s pro event in Europe. She has multiple Top-10s on Ladies European Tour events. “Many of these girls I have been playing with over the years are here. We are all close to finishing with our amateur careers. So, it is great to be here once again.”

She added, “I have known Eila (Galitsky) since we were about nine. We played together in US Kids Golf, then at various other events. Now we will be playing at Sage Valley and ANWA together. We have also roomed together and stay in touch. I also know others like Rianne (Malixi), Minsol and many others. So, it is great to see everyone here. It’s a great event and I really want to do well, maybe win it once, before I turn pro.”

The prizes are the very best in amateur golf for women. The winner gets starts at three major championships in 2024 – AIG Women’s Open, the Amundi Evian Championship and Chevron Championship.

In addition, the winner will get invitations to play in the  121st Women’s Amateur Championship, the 2024, Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, the Hana Financial Group Championship and the Women’s Australian Open.

The field is made up of  90 players from 22 countries and only players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) list are eligible to play. The leading 50 players (plus ties) progress past the 36-hole cut and play the final two rounds.


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