Thai Atthaya seizes lead at Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship
Last year, Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul took women's golf by storm not just once, but twice.
At age 14, she became the youngest golfer to win on the Ladies European Tour, dominating the professional field at the 2017 Ladies European Thailand Championship as an amateur last July.
The record had previously been held by former world No. 1 Lydia Ko.
A month later, she won the individual and team gold at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The Thai has carried her terrific form over to this season.
At the inaugural Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific championship yesterday, Atthaya fired a six-under 65 at the New Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club to lead after the opening round of the tournament.
Atthaya, who teed off on the 10th hole, tallied an impressive eight birdies, but she admitted that she could have done better on a couple of other occasions.
She said: "There were some mistakes on hole 9 and 12 because I hit it over the green.
"It was a bit hard to shift up and down, but nothing too big.
"The eighth hole was hard, but it was my best shot. I hit it too long but still made a birdie.
"I'm happy with my result because my putts, drivers and chips were very good today."
Her one-stroke lead over Japan's Yuka Yasuda was a great birthday present for Atthaya, who turned 15 two days ago.
However, the second-highest ranked Thai in the field, who is currently 55th on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, refused to let the lead get to her head.
She said: "I don't think about winning the tournament. As long as I'm enjoying my game and doing my best, that's my goal this week."
Asked if there will be a change of strategy for the second round today, she shrugged and added: "Same as today, same strategy.
"I want to get the same feeling (as the first round) and enjoy the game."
Meanwhile, second-placed Yasuda is determined to build on her good start and win the tournament.
The 174th-ranked player is two strokes ahead of compatriot Mone Inami, who is third.
Yasuda, who also teed off on the 10th hole, notched six birdies and bogeyed just once.
Said the 17-year-old: "I missed only two greens today, so it was a very comfortable round.
"I had a lot of birdie chances and I played the round as I planned. I started well today and it's good to finish just one shot behind the leader."
Callista Chen led the six-strong Singaporean field after day one. Her score of 72 placed her joint-24th among the 83 golfers.
The winner of the Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific championship will earn invitations to both the ANA Inspiration in the United States and the Ricoh Women's British Open in England, as well as next week's HSBC Women's World Championship, also at Sentosa Golf Club.