Rookie Thai golfer Atthaya scores first LPGA tour victory

Another golf star is rising in Thailand’s constellation of women professional golfers. Atthaya Thitikul, a 19-year-old in her first year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, won the JTBC Classic in California last week in a two-hole playoff.

Atthaya’s remarkable win came in her 19th tournament on the LPGA Tour. In 2017, she was the youngest woman ever to win on the Ladies European Tour at the tender age of 14. She was also named Rookie of the Year and won that tour’s Order of Merit with 14 top-10 finishes.

“When you were young and then have a dream to one day you want to become an LPGA member, one day you want to win the LPGA tournaments,” Thitikul said.

She won by shooting an 8-under-par 68 on the final day for a 16-under-par total of 272 over the four days. She then edged out Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark who bogeyed the second playoff hole when her putt reached the edge of the hole but failed to drop in.

Atthaya, nicknamed Jeeno, joins a growing corps of Thai talent in the LPGA. Last year four Thai golfers won on the tour: Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Patty Tavatanakit and Pajaree Anannarukarn. The emergence of these talented Thais prompted Golf Digest to write “Fifteen years in the making, Thailand has emerged the next big force in women’s golf.”

Reflecting on her victory, Atthaya said that “It means a lot. It is quite really good that you have a goal, you set a goal, and you really want it and work harder to get it done.”

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