Oh so close for Wenyung Keh in Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
New Zealand golfer Wenyung Keh was beaten in a playoff to one of the world’s top women’s amateur tournaments.
It came in the inaugural women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship which was held in Singapore last month.
Keh, from Auckland, reached the playoff courtesy of a brilliant final round of four under par, which included an eagle three on a par five.
She had rounds of 69, 72, 68 and 67 at the Sentosa Golf Club to give her a four-round total of 276, a score shared by three other players from Thailand, the Phillipines and Japan.
Keh, 20, was beaten on the first playoff hole but afterwards remained happy at what she had achieved.
“It was a great week and I’m happy I gave myself a chance,’’ said Keh who was dressed in black like her New Zealand rugby heroes.
“This was a new experience I can really learn from and I don’t think I’ve been in a four-way play-off before. I just wanted to enjoy myself this week, play on an amazing golf course and it just turned out really well.”
Keh these days is playing her golf in the United States for the University of Washington, alongside another New Zealand star, Julianne Alvarez.
Keh was one of six New Zealanders to play the Asia-Pacific. The others were Amelia Garvey who finished 24th, Brittney Dryland (40th), Juliana Hung (42nd), Caryn Khoo (47th) and Rose Zheng (missed the cut).
The tournament was won by 15-year-old emerging Thai star Atthaya Thitikul. She lead from start to finish but it took three extra holes before she was crowned the winner.
Thitikul, who only turned 15 on the Tuesday in the week of the tournament, started the event at 53rd in the world amateur rankings, with recent highlights including becoming the Ladies European Tour’s youngest-ever winner last July and gold medals in the South-East Asia Games individual and team events in Malaysia a month later.
The Singapore win earned Thitikul invitations to the LPGA tournament ANA Inspiration (March 29-April 1) at Mission Hills Country Club in California and the Women’s British Open (August 2-5) at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire in England.
Born in Bangkok, Thitikul made her major championship debut at the Women’s British Open last August and the following month played in her second major at The Evian Championship in France, where she made the cut.
“I’m so excited because this is the first year of this championship,’’ Thitikul said.
“It’s so great that my name is the first one on the trophy,” said Thitikul, who played in her first LPGA event at the Honda LPGA Thailand last February, when she had just turned 14.
“My golf today wasn’t so good, even though I started so good and played well in the play-off. But I didn’t ever really get nervous because I came here to learn and get experience.
“Now, I’m so excited to play in two more majors. I’m really looking forward to returning to the Women’s British Open and I would like to make the cut this time, but my main objective is always to play happy and gain more experience.”
Six Japanese and five Koreans finished in the top 20, while five Filipinas finished in the top 30. The original field started with 83 players representing 18 nations, with 48 aged 18 or under, and 53 made the halfway cut.
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been developed by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) and The R&A to nurture talent and provide a pathway for the region’s elite female amateurs to the international stage.