Atthaya Thitikul became the youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour last Sunday, after beating Ana Menendez from Mexico by two strokes at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Chinburi. Atthaya produced a level-par 72 on Sunday to finish the week on 5-under-par 283.
She began her fourth round one shot behind Menendez after posting rounds of 70, 71 and 70. The Mexican player dropped four shots on the front nine, however, handing Atthaya a two-shot lead at the turn after one birdie and two bogeys on her first nine holes.
She took up golf at the age of six, encouraged by her father, and just eight years later Thitikul is finding herself as the youngest winner of a professional golf tournament. With 14 years, four months and 19 days, Atthaya broke the preceding record of the formerly top-ranked Lydia Ko, who was 14 years and eight months when winning her first professional event at the New South Wales Open in 2012.
”I’m so happy for my win this week and feel so proud of myself. I give this win to all Thais,” said Atthaya who got inspired by former Thai top-ranked player Ariya Jutanugarn.
”I was nervous at the first tee. But I didn’t think about the scores. I just focused on my shots and only on my caddie. I didn’t expect to win this tournament as I just came here to learn techniques from the pro players on the Ladies European.”
She has already shown signs of her talent, though, leading up to her debut at a professional tournament, finishing as a runner up in the Queen Sirikit Cup in China, before going on to win the Taiwan amateur Open in June.
Despite this record-breaking victory, as an amateur player Thitikul was ineligible to collect her prize of €45,000 ($51,000), with second-placed Menendez taking home the money. Atthaya, on her sides, has stated that she would not turn professional for a few years because she needs to gather more experience.
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