Dream Comes True for Triumphant Mizuki

Mizuki Hashimoto celebrates her victory with fellow Japanese players. Picture by Graham Uden/R&A via Getty Images.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Japan’s outstanding year in golf continued when Mizuki Hashimoto shot a fourth successive four-under-par 68 to win the third edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship.

At Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Hashimoto finished on a 16-under-par total of 272 and became the second successive Japanese champion after Yuka Yasuda lifted the trophy when it was last played in 2019.

The Thai duo of Kan Bunnabodee (66) and overnight leader Natthakritta Vongtaveelap (72), along with Australian Kelsey Bennett (68), were tied second at 15-under-par.

Nagano Inagaki (68), also of Japan, finished fifth at 13-under-par, with Malaysian Ashley Lau (70) a shot further back in sixth.

In April this year, Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani and Hideki Matsuyama were winners in back-to-back weeks at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and The Masters and a similar pattern unfolded in the UAE with Keita Nakajima having won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Dubai last week.

In addition to the beautiful trophy, 19-year-old Hashimoto secured Major championship places in next year’s AIG Women’s Open and the Amundi Evian Championship as well as the Hana Financial Group Championship and an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“I have always seen these tournaments on television. To be able to play in them is like a dream-come-true for me,” said Hashimoto, the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) number 121.

“I feel so happy to win this championship. I would like to say a big thank you to my team-mates and everyone who supported me all week.”

Bangkok-based Natthakritta said: “I’m a little disappointed but I did my best. I am so pleased that I was invited to play in this tournament. This has been a new experience and I won’t forget it.

“I have learned a lot. I have never played in a championship of this stature before and I have never been this nervous. I will keep improving my mindset and my skills,” she added.

Kan, who started the championship with a three-over 75 and played with an ankle injury, shot the day’s best round of 66. She had matched the low round in the history of the championship – an eight-under par 64 – on the second day.

“It’s kind of crazy because after round one I never imagined that I could come this far. But after that eight-under round I just kept going,” said the Purdue University star.

“This championship means a lot to me because the winner gets to go to the Major events. I really want to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Augusta National. I was just trying my best,” she added.

Bennett, the WAGR number 209 from New South Wales, said: “I was happy with the way I played. A few more putts could have dropped, but I held it very well. I was nervous coming in the last few holes. After the bogey on the first hole I was thinking it’s not very good but I managed to come back.”

Japan’s Ayaka Tezuka made the only hole-in-one of the championship and the first of her life when she hit a perfect eight-iron from 133 yards on the fourth hole.

There was a strong finish for Indian Natalii Gupta, a nominated player of the Emirates Golf Federation, who added a two-under 70 in the final round to finish tied 13th at six-under 282.

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