Date: January 16, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Major boost for WAAP

If there's a surge in depth and interest in women's amateur talent in Australian golf, expect this great news to sweeten the pot even further.

The fledgling Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific has today confirmed it will offer another major championship start to the winner of the April tournament.

The second edition of the premier women’s amateur golf championship of the Asia-Pacific region will be played at The Royal Golf Club in Japan from 25-28 April.

Australia’s top domestic women could be joined by our top US college-based athletes to fire a legitimate shot at several extraordinary prizes.

The Evian Championship announced today it would create a special exemption for the winner, adding to a start in the Women’s British Open and an invite to the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Defending champion Atthaya Thitikul, of Thailand, enjoyed a stunning year, finishing as the leading amateur in both Women’s British Open and the ANA Inspiration. She was also tied for eighth place at the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

The Evian Championship is the fourth of the five majors in women’s golf and will be played from 25-28 July at the picturesque Evian Resort Golf Club in France.

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been developed by the R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation to unearth emerging talent and provide a pathway for the region’s elite women amateurs to emerge on the international stage.

Announcing the exemption, Franck Riboud, chairman of the Evian Championship, said: “We are truly honoured to partner with the R&A on this great championship.

“The Evian Championship, the R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation share the same goals and values related to the emergence of young talents. It is with pleasure that we will award this new tournament exemption starting in 2019.

“We are convinced that the future of women’s golf is linked to the young talents teeing off at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific.”

The R&A launched its “Women in Golf Charter” last year and is committed to increasing the participation of women and girls in the sport, alongside Golf Australia’s “Vision 2025” policy.

Kei Muratsu, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, said: “Over the last few years, we have seen how dominant women from our region have become. Since October 27, 2014, the world No.1 as per the Rolex Rankings has always been from an Asia-Pacific country.

“So far, that has been restricted to countries like Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, China and Japan, (but) we have plenty of talent in the other 37 APGC countries and events like the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific is the perfect launching pad for them.

“We are very thankful to the Evian Championship for extending our champion an exemption. The fact that two of the five majors have shown this faith in us is a matter of great pride for the APGC and what we are trying to do with women’s golf here.”

Invitations to players will be sent out next week. The championship will have a field of 90 players with a maximum of six players from each of the APGC member countries. In addition, host Japan gets two extra spots.

There are currently 25 players from Asia-Pacific ranked in the World Amateur Golf Ranking top 100.