Vongtaveelap grabs three-shot lead as Dubai-based Natalii impresses again at WAAP - GulfToday

Vongtaveelap grabs three-shot lead as Dubai-based Natalii impresses again at WAAP

Natalii Gupta

Natalii Gupta in action during the third round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) Championship.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Thailand’s Natthakritta Vongtaveelap stormed to a three-shot lead after the third round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) Championship following a sensational birdie-eagle finish on Friday, as UAE-based Natalii Gupta moved up the leaderboard to T16 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National course.

Vongtaveelap was caught by Mizuki Hashimoto (68) at one stage when the Japanese player holed a 30-feet birdie putt on the 16th hole. But the 19-year-old hit a perfect tee shot and short iron to two feet for birdie on 17, before she rolled in an eagle putt from just four feet for a five-under-par 67 and 15-under, ahead of Hashimoto (-12) and Australia’s Kelsey Bennett who made three straight birdies from six and ten straight pars for a 69 to sit at -11.

“I am so happy and excited about the finish. It was perfect. The last seven shots were exactly how I wanted to hit them,” said Vongtaveelap, who, remarkably, has 19 wins and eight runner-up finishes in domestic events.

“I’ve come here thinking I want to win the championship. So this is a good way to go into the final round. But I know I need to play well as there are many good players in the field.”

Indian youngster Gupta, a nominated player of the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) and the only local to make the cut, closed out with three straight birdies, and her second straight three-under-par 69 round moved her to T16 at four-under-par 212. The 17-year-old, born and brought up in the UAE, said: “It’s pretty cool. I’ve never had people watch me before and for them to be supporting me this week, it’s just wonderful.

 “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.”

The WAAP was developed by The R&A and APGC to unearth emerging talent and provide a pathway for Asia’s elite women amateurs to the international stage.

The R&A launched the Women in Golf Charter in 2018 and is committed to increasing the participation of women in the sport. The WAAP is one of several key championships conducted by the governing body and a significant initiative along with the APGC to drive the popularity of women’s golf in the region.

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