It’s a pain for most of us when our vacation arrangements are changed at the last minute. Atthaya Thitikul, however, is not one of them.
The 19-year-old emerging LPGA star from Thailand won a tour tournament in Carlsbad last week, qualifying her for the Chevron Championship in Rancho Mirage this week. She, of course, had to change her plans.
She will compete in her first major as an LPGA Tour member just three days after winning her first LPGA Tour event.
“It means a lot to me to be out here and win last week, and I’m looking forward to playing this week,” Thitikul said after playing in the pro-am on Wednesday. “If I hadn’t been here, I would have probably gone home or somewhere else to be focused on my game.” “This is a lot better.”
Thitikul will be playing the Dinah Shore Tournament Course for the first time as a professional on Thursday, but she has competed in this event before. She competed as an amateur here in 2018, making the cut and finishing in a tie for 30th place. That year, she was the best amateur.
In 2018, she tied for fifth place with Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, and In Gee Chun at 5-under par. For a 15-year-old, this is quite impressive.
Does this imply that this course is a good fit for her?
“No, I don’t think so,” she stated matter-of-factly. “It will be lot easier for me, and for all players, if you can keep your ball in the fairway,” says the golfer.
Thitikul believes the confidence and glow she acquired from winning last week will not necessarily carry over to this week.
“With golf, you can’t expect anything,” she added, displaying the knowledge of a seasoned pro. “That was last week, not today,” says the narrator. I don’t want to be judged just on my ability to win, as in, ‘Oh yeah, you just won that tournament, you should perform well in this tournament as well.’ That is not the case. It varies depending on the week and the course.”
With her 19th birthday on Feb. 20, she would become the third-youngest player to win this event if she made it two in a row and won this week.
Morgan Pressel in 2007 and Lydia Ko in 2016 were both 18 at the time of their victories. When Lexi Thompson won in 2014, she was 19 years, one month, and 27 days old. On Sunday, Thitikul would be a few of weeks younger.
Thitikul has another characteristic that has to do with her early achievement. She holds the record for being the youngest golfer to ever win a professional competition. She won the Ladies European Thailand Championship as an amateur in 2017 at the age of 14 years, 4 months, and 19 days. It was thanks to that triumph that she was able to perform in Rancho Mirage in 2018.
On Sunday, a triumph in the desert would eclipse all of her previous achievements and become her new bright moment. She confessed that leaping in Poppie’s Pond has always been a goal of hers, and with the competition moving to Houston after this year, she knows this is her last chance.
However, there is one flaw.
“The other players have this fantasy as well,” she joked.