Indian golfer Anika Varma could not fully capitalise on the numerous chances she created in the third round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship on Friday, but still managed to shoot a two-under 70 to have an outside chance of winning the region’s premier tournament.
At Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National course, the 17-year-old Varma provided a masterclass of ball-striking, but in a space of five holes from the sixth onwards, she converted only one birdie chance on the eighth from less than a foot and missed the other four from inside five feet.
The 70 moved her to tied sixth place at nine-under 207, six shots behind Thailand’s Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, who continued to dominate the championship and opened up a three-shot lead at the top after a brilliant birdie-eagle finish.
Japan’s Mizuki Hashimoto added a third straight 68 to move to 12-under-par and in second place, one ahead of Australian Kelsey Bennett (69).
Among other Indian players, Natalii Gupta (69), who is Dubai born and nominated for the tournament by the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), was in tied 16th place at four-under par.
Bengaluru’s Avani Prashanth hit a third consecutive one-under par 71. Sifat Sagoo (72) and Kriti Chowhan (73) were tied 27th and 41st respectively at one-under 215 and three-over 219 respectively.
The US-based 17-year-old Varma quickly moved up with two early bogeys. She then tapped in for her third birdie on the eighth hole after a stunning wedge shot, but missed at least five birdie chances from inside five feet range.
“I feel like my approach shots, as always through this week, they’ve been really good. My putting’s been not my best friend, but it’s been pretty consistent.
“I’ve been making a lot of good par putts and I had my first bogey for the tournament today, so it is what it is. But overall, I’ve been pretty consistent, and everything’s been good,” said Varma, whose run of 47 holes without a bogey came to an end on the par-three 12th hole.
“I feel like it gets a little frustrating, but at the same time, you just have to learn like not to give in to the frustration and just play your game because you have such days.” Gupta, whose brother Arjun represented India in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last week in Dubai, closed with three birdies in a row to total four-under par 212.
The 17-year-old, born and brought up in the UAE, said: “I could have started better, but it was a good finish. I got to make some birdies towards the end. I was struggling with the putter a bit on the front. Then I just trusted my stroke towards the end, and that got me going.” Vongtaveelap, known as ‘Sim 300’ in Thailand for her 300-yard average drives, hit her approach shot to two feet on the par-four 17th, and on the 18th, after another long drive, smashed a five-hybrid to four feet for an eagle.
A total of 78 players from 16 APGC nations are taking part this week. WAAP is one of the most important events in the calendar for players from the Asia-Pacific region.
The champion will get guaranteed entries in the AIG Women’s Open and The Amundi Evian Championship (both major championships), as well as an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur