Friday, March 31, 2023

Sirikit Cup: Avani grabs title, India finish second

Avani Prashanth on Friday became the first Indian golfer to win the Queen Sirikit Cup, a prestigious tournament for amateurs, and helped the Indian team finish second for its best-ever show in the competition’s 43-year-old-history.
With a total of 16-under, Avani finished a record 10-strokes ahead of Fiona Xu of New Zealand (68-73-72-69), who was six-under for the week.
Local Filipino star, Rianne Mikhaela Malixi (68-73-68-74) and Korea’s Hyunjo Yoo (70-71-71-71) were tied third at 5-under total.
The lanky 16-year-old from Bengaluru, who cracked the top-100 recently had a share of the lead from the very first day at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club.
Avani who had rounds of 68-66-70 on the first three days played a brilliant back nine with four birdies in last eight holes, including the closing 18th.
“It’s been a long-awaited win and I’m excited for what the rest of the year holds. It’s a little frustrating that I won’t be going to Augusta this year, but I’ll hope to make it there in 2024. I’m just happy to get this win and I hope I can carry this form into the WAAP,” Avani, ranked 93rd on the World amateur golf rankings, said.
Rated highly in the Asia-Pacific region, Avani helped India give the formidable Korean a run for their money, before settling for the second place.
Even as Avani produced the finest performance of her young career, her teammate Vidhatri Urs (74-77-72-74) finished tied-19th while Nishna Patel (80-78-74-75) ended in tied-30th place.
In the team competition, Korean teen stars Kim Min-sol, Yoo Hyun-jo and Seo Kyo-rim once again showed their country’s domination at the tournament.
On a dramatic final day the Korean trio held firm to beat back a strong challenge from an Avani-inspired Indian team.
Korea had a 72-hole team aggregate of 12-under 564. That was five strokes clear of India. The two best scores of each team were counted for their day’s scores.
At the start of the day Korea quickly extended their overnight lead from two shots to four. But by the eighth hole, India had reduced the deficit to just one with Japan and Indonesia threatening to turn it into a four-horse race.
India’s hopes of a maiden Queen Sirikit Cup title faded when Nishna Patel found water with her approach and double-bogeyed the ninth and Vidhatri Urs took six at the par-four 10th. The Koreans were again four clear and went on to win by five. Still, it was a big boost for Indian amateur golfing scene.


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