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Six budding young stars of golf have been named to the Australian team for the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific championship in Japan this year.
The team, announced today, includes three automatic entries from the world amateur rankings — Victorian Julienne Soo, 21, who is making waves as a collegiate golfer in the United States, Youth Olympic gold medallist Grace Kim, 18, from New South Wales, and Queenslander Rebecca Kay, 20, who qualified for the Queensland Open last year.
The three additional players for the April event are Doey Choi, 19, (NSW), Stephanie Kyriacou, 18, (NSW), and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, 17, (WA). At stake is not only the coveted championship, but invitations to two major professional championships for the eventual winner.
Choi, who plays out of Concord Golf Club in western Sydney, has won four state amateur titles including two last year, and recently teed it up in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at The Grange in Adelaide.
Kyriacou hails from St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydney and was the NSW strokeplay champion last year.
Hinson-Tolchard is the reigning Australian junior champion who like Choi, recently played at The Grange.
Grace Kim said she was “absolutely stoked” to earn a spot in the Australian team, which will be coached by Rebecca Blain from New South Wales Golf Club and managed by Stacey Peters, Golf Australia’s female national pathway manager.
“It’s a big deal and always an honour,” said Kim. “There’s a good bunch of girls going, and I can’t wait for us to show the countries what we’re made out of down under!
“This tournament is a big one in the calendar for us girls as female golfers from all around the Asian countries are coming into one course for one big event and the winner gets spots into some pretty good starts so this event is huge to me!”
Kim said the venue was perfect since in the longer term she intended following Queenslander Karis Davidson, a former top Australian amateur who has turned professional and is playing on the Japanese tour. “I want to follow the similar path to her so I am excited to get a lot out of this upcoming trip and to be able to sort of familiarise myself with the courses, the environments, the atmosphere of Japan so I’m really looking forward to it!”
Hinson-Tolchard said recent experiences in professional tournaments would be a help to her in Japan. “I’m so excited to be selected as part of the Asian Am Aussie team,” she said. “I’m feeling confident in my game and after my experiences at the Vic Open and Women’s Australian Open I feel like I am able to compete for titles at the highest level of amateur golf. I think this event will be a real test but is good for us to see where we fair amongst the best amateurs in the world.”
Peters said she was thrilled with the team selected. “We will be coming off a great run of events for these girls, so we sure won’t be short of tournament preparation,” she said. “With the big exemptions on offer, this is a huge event for our girls, as we know what doors can open from a win in this event. We know how much the Japanese public love supporting women’s golf. So I feel the atmosphere is going to be fantastic.”
The 2019 Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific is operated by the R&A and will be played at The Royal Golf Club, north-east of Tokyo, from April 25-28. It is the second WAAP event, the inaugural tournament being won by Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul in Singapore last year.
The winner earns invitations to play in two major championships – the AIG Women’s British Open and the ANA Inspiration, as well as an exemption for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.