Becky Kay storms into #WAAPGolf lead, Nishitha Madan lying T19

A brilliant 64, rewriting the record for lowest round at WAAP Golf, helped Becky Kay take centre stage at The Royal Golf Club in Tokyo. Atthaya Thitikul (65) was in hot pursuit. Among the Indians - Nishitha Madan shone with a 71, while Seher Atwal and Jahanvi Bakshi remained even par.

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BECKY_KAY_R&A Images

25 April 2019: Australian Becky Kay is on a mission to meet with success as a professional golfer. The 20-year-old has put her plans on ice for one good swing at amateur glory. Kay fired five birdies in six holes as she raced to the turn after starting on the 10th hole. The Aussie made four straight from the 15th to soar up the leaderboard.

She amassed seven birdies in nine holes from the 13th, with two more at the second and third holes. The first round 64 was the best on the day, one better than defending champion Atthaya Thitikul.

BECKY_KAY_R&A Images
BECKY_KAY_R&A Images

The Thai star was also blemish free producing a clean sheet of 65 to plant herself firmly in the quest for more glory.

“Today was really good. Before I started, I thought about last year, and told myself ‘first day, I played so good. I just need to keep patient and have fun on the golf course,” said Thitikul.

“It’s my big key… relax and sing a song. I do feel pressure but when I’m out on the golf course, I am not thinking that I need to win again or about the finish. I just go out and enjoy myself and enjoy every moment of the tournament, that’s it.”

Indian golfers had a good start – Nishitha Madan shot 71 to lock herself among the top twenty. Madan was lying T19, after starting the day with seven straight pars. Two bogeys in three holes from the ninth threatened to derail her, but she recovered with birdies at 12 & 14 to secure an under par card.

Jahanvi Bakshi was shaken and stirred as she made the turn. The young lady was faced with turbulence making three bogeys from the sixth hole. But she did exceptionally well to score birdies at 13, 14 and 18 to ensure an even-par 72 against her name.

Also at even was Seher Atwal, who had the counsel and comfort of her elder sister Meher, who is carrying the bag this week. Seher was one over as she turned at the 18th, but birdies at the 1st and 3rd holes helped her stay even.

A double bogey seven at the 16th hole and four other bogeys left Khushi Hooda with a bruising 78, the same as Pranavi Urs. At six over, the duo will need a magical recovery on Friday to nurture any further hopes.

Pranavi endured her double bogey at the par-4 ninth hole. Her card was also severely damaged as she spilt six strokes between the fourth and tenth holes to essentially account for her 78.

“I got off to a good start with a birdie and I guess I just kept it rolling. The putts that I needed to make, I made and I hit it close. I just played golf, that’s what I did. I’m really stoked,” said Kay, who continues her fine form having won twice in her last four starts in Australia,” said Kay.

“I just wanted to make more birdies. I finished with four birdies on the back nine (her front nine), and I had two early ones on and six pars to finish. I had the opportunities to have more birdies but I’m not complaining.”

Japanese golfer Riri Sadoyama was the third golfer to remain spotless through the first round. She made 66 with four birdies between the third and eighth holes.

“I think I was more disappointed than Nishimura when she failed to make the putt and lost. I badly wanted to do well this year, not only because I learned a lot from Nishimura and what happened last year, but also because the tournament is in Japan,” said Sadoyama.

“I was nervous to hit the opening shot but also glad to be given the honour. I am just happy that I could hit a very good tee shot.”

South Korea’s Yae Eun Hong needed an extra birdie for her 66, as she conceded a bogey at the par-4 sixth hole. Xiaowen Yin and Ye Won Lee, from China and South Korea, shot 67 to tie in fifth place with Filipino golfer Abegail Arevalo.

Jiayi Wang, Yuna Nishimura and Bianca Pagdanganan are all four under, rounding off the top ten at the end of the first round.