Yuka Yasuda takes a two stroke lead as Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific reaches a climax

Yuka Yasuda took charge of the Women's Amateur Asia Pacific Championship with a 67 in the third round. Nishitha Madan is lying in T20

Yuka Yasuda - R&A Images

R&A Release, 27 April 2019: A storming finish consisting of three birdies and an eagle in her final four holes helped home favourite Yuka Yasuda to the top of the leaderboard at the end of the third round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) on Saturday. With a 75 in the third round, Nishitha Madan was lying in T20 at 9-over through 54 holes.

Seher Atwal posted an impressive 74 to end the day at T29. Pranavi Urs scored a 78 and is lying in T48.

It was another difficult scoring day at The Royal Golf Club but with a few tees pushed forward and the rain staying away, players were able to find birdies more easily. Yasuda, who recorded the best round of the second day in terrible conditions – a two-over par 74 – was in fine form once again and a five-under-par 67 round took her to four-under-par, two ahead of the defending champion Atthaya Thitikul (71) of Thailand and overnight leader Yaeeun Hong (73) of Korea.

Another Japanese player, Yuna Nishimura (70) is tied for fourth place along with Yewon Lee of Korea (70) and Australia’s Becky Kay (73).

Yasuda has made it a habit to perform in big tournaments and it was no different this week. She was tied second along with world No. 1 Jennifer Kupcho is the World Amateur Team Championship in Dublin last year, fifth at the inaugural 2018 WAAP in Singapore and tied third at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur earlier this month.

“I was very satisfied with my round. Today was windy again and it was very tough on all the shots. I was able to concentrate,” said the world No. 13.

“It will be the first time I will be leading a tournament going into the final round, so I am very excited about tomorrow. I will do my best and I will try to enjoy the whole experience.”

The 18-year-old from Kobe made a bogey on the 14th hole. She then birdied the 15th, eagled the par-5 16th and closed with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.

“I was disappointed with the bogey on the 14th hole and I told myself that I needed to par every remaining hole because they are difficult. But I hit good tee shots on the 15th and 16th and that set me up for the birdie and eagle,” added Yasuda, who hit a driver and 3-wood on the par-5 hole before converting the 20-foot putt for eagle.

Thitikul was one-over after 12 holes with a solitary bogey on the par-5 third. But she closed with birdies on the two par-5s on the back nine – the 13th and 16th – to finish under-par and just two behind Yasuda.

“My round today was good. I kept patient on the golf course and then waited for the par-fives on the back nine to make birdies,” said the world No. 9.

“Tomorrow, I just want to focus on my game. Tomorrow is the future and I cannot predict what to expect. All I can do is just play my game and go out and enjoy myself.”

Hong started with a three-putt bogey, which she attributed to nervousness.

“Today was a tough day. On the first hole, I was so nervous that I missed the putt and I three?putted.  And then my iron play was not that good and I kept pulling my shots. It’s still okay because I just made a lot of pars today,” added the world No. 89.

Grace Kim of Australia shot an incredible round under the conditions – six-under-par 66, propelling herself into contention at one-over-par, before Yasuda’s finish took her five shots clear.

The 18-year-old from Greenacre, who shot a 10-under par 62 in the second round of the Annika Invitational – Australia last year, could have been playing a different golf course as she made seven birdies and a solitary bogey.

“The conditions were a lot different. Yesterday was crazy and I don’t think I’ve been so cold in my life playing golf.  Today I guess it was a lot easier. I had to take into consideration the wind, which was not as bad as it was yesterday when it was both rain and wind.  Getting everything wet was just a hassle. I reflected on what I did wrong and what I could have done better today and obviously it worked,” said Kim, who made a 40-footer for birdie on the second hole which got her going.

The Championship has ‘Elite’ status in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). The field is 80 players from 19 countries and includes 17 ranked inside the top-100 of the WAGR. The champion will earn a spot in two of the five women’s majors – the AIG Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship. She will also receive an invite to the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.