UAE golfer Hamad Al Suwaidi hitting the opening tee shot in round one of the tournament at Abu Dhabi Golf Club
UAE golfer Hamda Al Suwaidi hitting the opening tee shot in round one of the tournament at Abu Dhabi Golf Club Image Credit: R&A

Thailand’s Natthakritta Vongtaveelap shot a six-under 66 to lead by two shots after the first round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship (WAAP) at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Chasing the leader are Chun-Wei Wu, Mizuki Hashimoto of Japan and Viera Permata Rosada of Indonesia.

In perfect scoring conditions, the 19-year-old Vongtaveelap, who stands 149th on the amateur rankings shot seven birdies in her round having stood one over par on the seventh tee. Players from eight countries occupy places in the top 12.

Of the local UAE-based players, 17-year-old Natalii Gupta of India, born and raised in Dubai and this week playing under the UAE flag, shot the best of the day 74 to lie in tied 49th.

Gupta, a member of Trump International Golf Club and taking lessons at the CH3 Academy at The Els Club scored birdies on holes 5 and 7 to go out in level par 36 and two bogeys on holes 10 and 12 saw her home in two over.

Gupta finished runner-up on the 2019-2020 EGF Order of Merit after winning three Ladies’ Opens in the season. Gupta’s twin brother Arjan played last week in the Amateur Asia-Pacific (AAP) at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.

April Varney, UAE national women’s team coach, said: “Today has been a challenge for all the UAE players and the UAE team. Hopefully the first round nerves are now out of the way and we look forward to a much improved second day. Interestingly, despite our players being used to the warm temperatures in the UAE, they struggled with all the walking, around such a long golf course.”

Andrea Faldella, Club Operations Manager of Abu Dhabi Golf Club, added: “We have all been impressed with the quality of play throughout the week so far and the scores for the first round. There are some exceptional players in the field, that we will look back on in just a few year’s time, who will undoubtedly be winners on the professional tours around the world including major triumphs. It is also tremendous to see Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A and other officials from both the R&A the APGC around the golf club and supporting the golf.”

After Thursday’s second round there will be a cut to the leading 50 players and ties who will play the final two rounds.

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship is organised by The R&A and APGC and locally sanctioned by the Emirates Golf Federation.