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As-Pac elites clash for spot in the majors

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF R&A THE Philippines’ pride Rianne Malixi hopes to ride the crest of her successful Australian swing to Thailand.

The sixth staging of the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific has become the region’s premier ladies’ championship, featuring the best up-and-coming golf stars. And fittingly, that bunch includes the Philippines’ rising star Rianne Malixi.

But the 16-year-old Filipina will have her work cut out for her in the meet which fires off 1 February at the Waterside course of the Siam Country Club in Thailand.

After all, they will be fighting not just for the crown but for chances play in some of the sport’s biggest stages. At stake in Thailand are invitations to three majors: The Women’s Open, the Evian Championship and the Chevron Championship.

Also up for grabs are berths in elite championships such as the Hana Financial Group Championship, the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the 121st Women’s Amateur Championship and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Standing in the way of the newly minted Australian Master of the Amateurs champion is Japan’s Mamika Shinchi, the 16-year-old who ruled the Australian Amateurs where Malixi placed eighth.

There Shinchi came back from a six-stroke deficit to hometown bet Amelia Harris to snare the crown.

“To win in Australia, I feel very happy. I’m grateful for the experience,” said Malixi who is backed by the International Container Terminal Services Inc.

India’s Avani Prashanth and South Korea’s Eunseo Choi will also be vying for top honor. The 17-year-old Prashanth won the Queen Sirikit Cup individual winner at Manila Southwoods last year.

On the other hand, Choi posted two victories in 2023. Also 17, Choi finished ninth in Australian Masters of the Amateurs and third in the Australian Amateur.

Players from 22 countries will see action including Samoa’s Faith Vui, who won the New Zealand Women’s Amateur trophy last year; Harmonie Yin from Cambodia; and Sabrina Wong from Hong Kong, who at 12 is the youngest player in the fold.

The WAAP has produced notable championships in the past like World No. 10 Thai Atthaya Thitikul, who topped the inaugural staging of the WAAP in 2018 in Singapore.

Japanese Yuka Yasuda reigned in the second edition at home at the Royal Golf Club in 2019. Her compatriot Mizuki Hashimoto emerged victorious in 2021 in United Arab Emirates. Chinese Taipei’s Ting-hsuan Huang captured the crown in 2022, also at the Siam Country Club.

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