Coming off a win on the Hero Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) Tour, in-form Avani Prashanth is brimming with confidence as she competes at the third edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) beginning here on Wednesday.
The premier regional tournament for amateurs, which is being played at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, features 79 players from 24 countries.
The champion golfer gets guaranteed entry in the AIG Women’s Open and The Amundi Evian Championship (both majors), as well as an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Besides Prashanth, India has seven other players in the field, including WAGR No.153 Sneha Singh of Hyderabad.
The Indian team has six players – Singh, Prashanth, No.259 Sifat Sagoo, No.478 Anika Varma, No.658 Kriti Chowhan and No.707 Nishna Patel. Two other Indians – Natalii Gupta and Hannah Cheryl Allan – have been nominated by the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF).
The Bengaluru-based Prashanth, only 15, has in fact won twice on the Hero WGAI Tour and is ready to take on the cream of Asian golfer in her WAAP debut.
“It feels great, coming off a win, and more importantly, having shot some pretty good scores,” said the 15-year-old, who finished second in Chandigarh event of the WGAI Tour.
“I’m super excited to represent India for the first time. The golf course is amazing, too. And knowing what the winner gets, it just adds to all the excitement.” Prashanth, a student at Greenwood High in Bengaluru, said tournaments like this pushes one to work that much harder and play that much better.
“I have been targeting this tournament, the Queen Sirikit Cup and the Asian Games in all the planning that I have done with my dad during the lockdown last year, so to be able to be finally here is very satisfying.” In 13 events this year on the Indian Golf Union (IGU) circuit and the Hero WGAI Tour, Prashanth has remarkably finished inside the top-9 in each one of them.
She credits the improvement in her game to the hard work she put in during the lockdown period last year and the online coaching she did with the UK-based Laurence Brotheridge.
“I have a launch monitor at home and we worked a lot on my driving distance and my swing speed during the lockdown, while hitting balls into a net.
“My driving distance went up from like a carry of 220 yards to 255 now. And the swing speed also went from 91 to around 98. I am probably one of the longest hitters on the WGAI now,” Prashanth explained.
The tournament, organised by the R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), features six of the top-30 players in the world, with Korea’s Youmin Hwang, No.4 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and China’s world No.7 Xiaowen Yin the top-ranked players.