Indian teen star Zara in shared lead at Queen Sirikit Cup

The Indian team at Queen Sirikit Cup. From left – Heena Kang, Zara Anand and Vidhatri Urs

India’s teen star Zara Anand braved icy and frosty conditions on the opening morning of the 44th Queen Sirikit Cup and took a share of the lead. Zara, who was added to the team by the Indian Golf Union, following the withdrawal of 2023 winner Avani Prashanth, shot 1-pover 73 at the Par-72 Clearwater Golf Club in New Zealand.

Zara shared the lead with Chinese Taipei’s Chun-Wei Wu, the reigning Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific champion, and Japan’s Aina Fujimoto.

A year ago, India’s Avani Prashanth stunned the field by becoming the first Indian to win individual honours at the Queen Sirikit Cup in Manila. This year Avani is playing in the US at the same time as Queen Sirikit Cup.

The leading trio is one shot ahead of four others, Shihyun Kim of Korea, Chinese Taipei’s Ping-Hua Hsieh, Kiwi Eunseo Choi and Australian Sarah Hammett, who all carded 74 each.

Even as Zara zoomed to the top with two birdies against three bogeys, Vidhatri Urs (79) was T-20th and Heena Kang (85) was T-32, as the conditions were icy to begin with play being delayed by half an hour due to frost.

Scoring was tough and no player recorded carded an even-par round or better.

In terms of teams standings, India was sixth, as Chinese Taipei led with a three-over-total for two best scores from team of three. They were three shots clear of the host nation, New Zealand, and the pre-tournament favourites, Korea.

Australia and Japan sit a further shot behind, with India in solo sixth on six-over.

Zara, runner-up at the All India Ladies Amateur, and a third place finisher at the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour event, dropped a shot on the Par-3 fourth, but recovered that shot with a birdie on the Par-3 ninth. On the back nine, back-to-back bogeys pushed her back but she made up one shot with a birdie on the Par-4 closing 18th for a 73.

Chun-Wei had three birdies and four bogeys in the middle of the round between the eighth and the 13th holes, while Fujimoto also had three birdies against four bogeys.

Wu was supported by her teammate Ping-Hua Hsieh, who carded 74, while Hsin Chun Liao carded the non-counting round of three-over-75 to share eighth individually.

Among the four players sharing fourth place was last week’s New Zealand Stroke Play champion Eunseo Choi, who helped the Kiwis into a share of second place among the teams.

New Zealander Choi, who is Korean by origin but Kiwi by birth, seemed to be the only player headed for an under-par round, but finished with a double on 17 and a bogey on 18 to fall a stroke behind at 74.


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