(Left) Avani Prashanth. In the right frame – (L-R) Mamika Shinchi of Japan, Avani Prashanth of India, Eila Galitsky of Thailand and Minsol Kim of South Korea pose following a press conference prior to The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship at Siam Country Club on January 31, 2024 in Chon Buri, Thailand. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
Pattaya, Thailand: There is a sense of gratitude but also laced with a lot expectations as the region’s finest young women golfers get ready for the sixth edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship. This week the event returns to the lovely Siam Country Club, which hosted the event in 2022, where 22 countries will be represented by 90 golfers.
A little over a dozen of the 90 golfers are in the World’s Top-100, and they will rub shoulders with players who are from countries in different stages of development of the game.
The eloquent Avani Prashanth seemed to sum it up in her opening remarks, saying. “This tournament is a bookmark event for all of us in our calendars. It gives us exposure to play against the best in Asia, so that is definitely one big advantage.
And just what the APGC does for all of us we’re all so grateful for it. And not only do we get to play with the best, but also making lifelong relationships that will become useful when you start playing on the LPGA or LET together.
And I think once you win I think it’s great because that gives you a head start as a young amateur and what you should and should not do.”
Avani is accompanied by five other Indian golfers, Vidhatri Urs, Mannat Brar, Heena Kang, Keerthana Rajeev Nair and Saanvi Somu.
The defending champion, Eila Galitsky of Thailand, added, “So just what Avani said. It is great exposure, and the opportunity to just make friendships from around the world, around Asia, and the opportunity to get to play majors and compete with the top pros in the world is truly amazing.”
Galitsky, asked what was the best part of being the champion last year, added, “Just traveling the world really. The opportunity, it was just amazing. This tournament is amazing, so really glad to have done that.”
While Avani is looking to make her fourth, and possibly, her last shot at WAAP, a winning one, Galitsky is banking on a change in fortunes at the Siam Country Club.
If the 17-year-old Galitsky, the winner at the Singapore Island Country Club last year, wins again, she will become the first player to defend her WAAP title and also the first two-time winner of the region’s premier amateur event for women. In 2022, Galitsky struggled with her putter at the Siam Country Club’s Waterside Course and was Tied-35th.
Galitsky, who has just committed to attending the University of South Carolina, said, “I struck the ball beautifully, but I couldn’t make the putts. Over the week I had 27 putts from inside 10 feet and only made four of them. If I’d have putted well, I’d have won. This week, I have a good caddie and I feel I’m putting better so I’m looking forward to trying to defend my title.
Avani, who at 42nd is two place behind Galitsky in the World Amateur Golf Ranking added, “I often feel this is the one tournament I would love to win before hanging up my amateur boots, so to say. I have been playing well for the past year and 2023 was my best year, so hopefully I can carry on that form here.”
On her recent form and how different has been from past yeae, Avani said,“ Definitely I think I just started putting a lot better. Became much more consistent than what it was. I had a good stretch of events last year starting from the Indian Open. Made a couple of changes and I think that’s what has been helping.
Game-wise and strategy-wise I don’t think anything has changed. If everything comes together, I think I’ll have a pretty good week.”
She added she had played the front and back stretches and has a good idea of how to go around the course. “I think the 16th, 17th, are the holes I don’t really like too much. I’ve just got to figure out my way around them.
Otherwise I think just taking advantage on the shorter par-4s is important because not all the par-5s this week are gettable. I think that will definitely be key.”
Avani and Galitsky, who have forged a friendship going to back to the time they were Under-10, have competed often against each. In six previous clashes around the world, they are tied 3-3 as their personal score.
This is a private battle even as they fight for the big prize. Said Avani, “There are more battles coming up, this week and then a few more like the Sage Valley and Augusta National Women’s Amateur.”
The winner of the WAAP is rewarded with exemptions into three major championships in 2024 – the AIG Women’s Open at St Andrews, the Amundi Evian Championship in France and the Chevron Championship in the United States of America.