Meet Kyo Rim Seo (right) and Hyun Jo Yoo (left). The two teenagers have qualified for the Korean national team and already have had some great highlights. They both played in the Asian Pacific Amateur event earlier this year; Seo finished 10th, Yoo 22nd. They also were on the Queen Sirikit team along with Min Sol Kim. Korea amazingly had not won the event for several years (they used to dominate) but they managed to win it this time.
Coming up: the Asian Games in September (in China) and the World Amateur Team Championship in October (in Dubai). They haven't qualified for those events just yet, but they certainly look likely to. Keep on watching!
Manila, Philippines: Following in the footsteps of many of Korea’s most famous female golfing icons, teen titans Kim Min-sol, Yoo Hyun-jo and Seo Kyo-rim reasserted their country’s domination at the Queen Sirikit Cup.
On a tense final day at Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, the Korean trio held firm to emerge triumphant in the face of a strong challenge from an Avani Prashanth-inspired Indian team.
Ultimately, Korea prevailed with a 72-hole team aggregate of 12-under 564. That was five strokes clear of India for whom Prashanth starred, blowing the field away in the individual segment in which she finished 10 strokes ahead of her closest pursuer.
“I’m so proud of all three players,” said Team Captain Sang Wong-ko, following Korea’s 22nd triumph in the 43rd edition of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Ladies Golf Team Championship. Since 2007, they’ve won it 13 times out of 15, missing out only in 2013 and 2022.
For 16-year-olds Kim and Seo and 17-year-old Yoo it was a week to remember as they emulated the feat of Korean golfing greats Pak Se-ri, Han Hee-won, Kim Mi-hyun, Ryu So-yeon, Kim Hyo-joo and Kim Sei-young, all of whom represented Korea in the Queen Sirikit Cup before embarking on their professional careers.
“Here in Manila our girls adapted so well to what is a different and new environment for them. I told them not to think about winning, but to go out there and enjoy themselves,” added Sang.
Enjoy themselves they did, in spite of facing difficult moments during the course of the week.
Kim, 16th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), rose to the challenge with a closing 68, while Yoo added a 71, her fourth successive sub-par return, matched only by Prashanth. Seo’s final-round 77 was not required in the event in which the two best daily scores in each three-strong team are counted.
On another scorching day at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters Course at Manila Southwoods, 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.
However, Kim and Yoo did not ease off and 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. Suddenly, the Koreans were four strokes clear at the top again.
Although Prashanth continued hunting for birdies in the final flight, hopes of a maiden Queen Sirikit Cup crown for India slipped away. Nonetheless, it was by some margin, India's best-ever showing in the tournament, having never before finished better than fourth.
In joint third place in the team standings were Indonesia and defending champions Japan (573), followed by New Zealand (574), Thailand (578), Hong Kong, China (581), China (582), the Philippines (583), Chinese Taipei (584), Malaysia (596) and Singapore (606).
Reflecting on the performance of the Indian team, Captain Kattarya Sunita said: “You always come to a tournament with high hopes of doing well and winning. Avani has been in great form so we expected her to do well.
“We received so many well-wishes from back home before the final round and we can be proud of our performance.”
Certainly Prashanth had much to be proud of, leaving a world-class field distantly in her wake, the latest indication that super-stardom is not far away.
“I feel great. It’s been a long-awaited win and I’m excited for what the rest of the year holds,” said the 16-year-old, 93rd in the WAGR and rated as one of the Asia-Pacific’s outstanding golfing talents.
With rounds of 68, 66, 70 and 68 she simply blew her rivals away, her distance off the tee proving decisive.
Second place individually went to New Zealand’s Fiona Xu with Korean Yoo pipping Rianne Malixi of the Philippines for third place on a countback. Chinese Taipei’s Tiffany Huang Ting-hsuan, the reigning Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) champion, was alone in fifth on four-under 284.
Like Malixi, Yoo, Huang and Xu, Prashanth will now turn her attention to the fifth edition of the WAAP, to take place at Singapore Island Country Club from March 9-12.
But she will not be accompanying Huang, Xu and five other players Queen Sirikit Cup players to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at the end of March.
“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,” said Prashanth. “I’m just happy to get this win and I hope I can carry this form into the WAAP.”