Teen prodigy Atthaya Thitikul will lead the elite field when the inaugural tournament of the newly established Thai Women’s Professional Golf Association which tees off at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club Pattaya between March 26-28.
The two-time Ladies European Tour victor along with Thailand’s rising stars Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, Arpichaya Yubol, and Chonlada Chayanun have signed up for the Bt1 million Phoenix Ladies Classic which offers a total prize money of Bt 1 million.
The opening event by the Thai WPGA features a total of 136 professionals and amateurs competing over 54 holes. After two rounds, the top 60 players will advance to the final showdown.
Atthaya, 18, will return to the Phoenix Gold where she first rose to fame back in 2017 by lifting the LET Thailand Championship, making her the youngest winner on the LET at only 14 years, four months and 19 days. She also won her second LET Thailand Championship crown at this course two years ago.
“My fellow players and I are looking forward to tournaments to play. A tournament by a new association will surely bring a new dimension for us to experience,” said Atthaya from Ratchaburi province.
“I need tournaments to test my game after working really hard in the off season. I’m trying to get into my momentum especially for my short game,” added who competed against the men in a mixed tournament and in the All Thailand Tour earlier this year.
Asked about the Thai WPGA’s bid to organize a local tour that offers world rankings, Atthaya said: “It will be a great opportunity for Thai players as we’ve never had a world-ranking local tour before. It will surely bring Thai women’s golf to another step.”
“I’m always excited to come back to this course as I have great memory here. I cannot ask for a better way to prepare myself for the LET (as a pro) in May than to play a warm-up event at the Phoenix Gold,” she added.
Home player Kanyalak, the second Thai to win the LET Thailand Championship in 2018, is thrilled to play at the backyard course where she celebrated her biggest career victory.
“I can’t wait to come back and play on this course. I have been working harder, having more rounds of golf after a three-month break. I haven’t changed anything much except on my game plan and mindset,” said the Chonburi-based who plans to compete on the Korean LPGA Tour later this year.
Of the Thai WPGA tour’s plan to feature world rankings, she said : “This is such great news as we don’t have to travel and compete aboard in order to gain world ranking points.”
Roi-Et born Pannarat, an LPGA Tour pro, said: “It’s nice that the Thai WPGA organize events for us to sharpen our skills. I will need to tune myself up before I return to the LPGA Tour in the US.”
18-year-old Arpichaya from Saraburi said: “It’s always nice to have a new tour which provides another opportunity to catch up and play with fellow players. They will be well prepared for this tournament. As for me, I’ve always practising even when there are no tournaments. My goal is to stick to my game plan and enjoy golf out there.”
“About the world ranking, I believe that will give a motivation for players to try even harder. A new way is paved for us to climb up the rankings,” said Arpichaya who beat the men in the Thailand Mixed event in Hua Hin last month.
“It’s always tough to play at the Phoenix Gold due to the green condition and the winds. You need to have a good game plan if you want to play aggressive. You also have to be in a good frame of mind,” she added.
Chonlada from Nakhon Ratchasima said: “I always want to come back at the Phoenix Gold which is a place I’m quite familiar with. I played well here in 2018. I’m now fixing some weak points in my game and have 3-4 rounds of golf a week in order to gain my momentum.”
She also viewed on the world ranking points that: “Thai players will benefit a lot from this especially to pave the way to the LPGA Q-School. We all want to have the world ranking points.”
The Thai WPGA was founded on February 19 2021 with Chanya Sawangchitr, CEO of the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club Pattaya, as president. The association aims at support and develop female Thai golfers into the global arena.
For further information, please visit www.thaiwpga.com