Ayean Cho heads leaderboard at Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific championship

Published February 24, 2018, 10:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

A-Yean Cho of Korea (Picture by Paul Lakatos/R&A)
A-Yean Cho of Korea (Picture by Paul Lakatos/R&A)

Korean Ayean Cho, 17, was in pole position at seven-under at the end of a rain-interrupted third day at the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.

Cho was two-under for the day after 14 holes when play stopped at 7.20pm due to fading light. Action was suspended for most of the afternoon due to heavy rain and the threat of lightning before resuming at 6.20pm.

Thai starlet Atthaya Thitikul, also playing in the final flight, was six-under overall along with Japan’s Yuna Nishimura, who was playing in the second-last group and had three holes left to play.

Yuka Saso, the Philippines’ top-ranked amateur, made a major move with four birdies putting her four-under after 17 holes and five-under overall, level with compatriot Lois Kaye Go, reigning Japan Women’s Amateur champion Yuka Yasuda and Korean Yunji Jeong, who all had yet to finish their rounds.

Wenyung Keh, New Zealand’s top-ranked amateur, shot a three-under 68 over the 6,456-yard New Tanjong course to post the clubhouse lead at four-under, while six Koreans and six Japanese featured in the top 20 at close of play. The third round resumes Saturday.

Cho, Thitikul and Nishimura all shared dreams of winning the 72-hole stroke play event and earning places in two of this year’s major championships, the ANA Inspiration and Ricoh Women’s British Open, as well as next week’s 11th HSBC Women’s World Championship, also at Sentosa Golf Club.

Cho, who said her career ambition is to win the LPGA Tour Order of Merit, started the day one behind Thitikul and Jeong and took the outright lead before rain stopped play at 12.40pm and held onto it after play resumed.

“Seeing my name on top of the leaderboard doesn’t mean too much because we haven’t finished the round. I feel a little bit sad because my rhythm and my shots were all good so I really didn’t want to stop,” Cho said.

Cho’s experience of pro events includes playing in the LPGA Volvik Championship and she was low amateur in the LPGA Tour’s New Zealand Women’s Open last October, while last month she won the Danny Lee Springfield Open in New Zealand and finished runner-up in the Australian Women’s Amateur. However, she has never played in a major championship.

“If I could win, this would be the biggest achievement in my career. And the fact I could win and play in two majors …. I’d feel like I can fly! I can’t find the right word to describe how happy I’d be,” said Cho.

The original field started with 83 players representing 18 nations, with 48 aged 18 or under, and 53 made the halfway cut. Two 13-year-olds made the cut: Shannon Tan, who joined Chen as the two Singaporeans to make the cut, and Chia-yen Wu from Chinese Taipei who made global headlines last year when she became the youngest-ever US Amateur semi-finalist.

The winner will earn invitations to both the ANA Inspiration (29 March-1 April) at Mission Hills Country Club in California, USA, and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (2-5 August) at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, as well as next week’s 11th HSBC Women’s World Championship, also at Sentosa Golf Club.