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Walton Heath 2023

Race for the Smyth Salver


Ten amateurs target Walton Heath glory

Eila Galitsky at the AIG Women

Eila Galitsky says it “would mean everything” to follow in the footsteps of fellow Thai player Atthaya Thitikul by winning the Smyth Salver for the leading amateur player at the AIG Women’s Open.

Galitsky is one of 10 amateurs in the field for Walton Heath, having qualified in March when she won the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship (WAAP).

The 17-year-old has repeatedly stated her love for the AIG Women’s Open, describing the Championship as “the major I want to win some day in my career”.

There is also an obvious inspiration for Galitsky this week, with Thitikul having won the Smyth Salver as a teenager in 2018 and 2019.

Galitsky has already emulated Thitikul once by winning the WAAP and is excited by the opportunity to again share an honour with her compatriot.

“It would mean everything [to win the Smyth Salver] because I have my name on the WAAP trophy with Atthaya, so hopefully I can just follow in her path and become as great as her one day,” said Galitsky.

“She always congratulates me when I win and I congratulate her.”

The other nine amateurs in the field include the top two players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Ingrid Lindblad and Saki Baba.

Saki Baba

Saki Baba, who sits second in the World Amateur Golf Ranking

An emphatic victory in the US Women’s Amateur earned Baba a place at Walton Heath. The Japanese player produced a sensational performance in the final to defeat Monet Chun 11 and 9.

However, Lindblad had to wait until the week of the Championship to confirm her fourth AIG Women’s Open appearance. The world number one amateur came through Final Qualifying for the third time, progressing from a dramatic 13-person play-off at Hankley Common on Monday.

The play-off continued long after Lindblad had progressed and it was not until the following morning that Savannah De Bock, last year’s European Amateur Champion, edged out Maddie Szeryk on the seventh extra hole to take the final place in the field.

There was also a third amateur among the 12 players to make it through Final Qualifying, Ireland’s Anna Foster shooting a four-under 67 to make it through in regulation play.

"After I made birdie on the last, I finally let myself think about playing in the AIG Women's Open,” said Foster. “It was just so overwhelming.”

The amateur field at Walton Heath is completed by Women’s Amateur Champion Chiara Horder, Women’s Amateur Latin America Champion Valentina Rossi, European Amateur Champion Julia Lopez Ramirez, Galitsky’s predecessor as the WAAP Champion, Ting-hsuan Huang, and Charlotte Heath, the highest-ranked amateur from Great Britain and Ireland.

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