Red-hot Atthaya Thitikul lived up to the expectations following a wire-to-wire victory at the Bt1 million Phoenix Ladies Classic at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya on Sunday.
The talented teenager had been in dominant form since the opening day and she clang onto the lead until the end with a finishing 15 under-par-201 to beat Chakansim Khamborn and Chanettee Wannasaen by five strokes.
This marked the third occasion that Atthaya triumphed at this landscape following two Ladies European Tour victories in 2017 and 2019. But this is the first time she would take home a prize money as when she won the LET Thailand Championship those years, she was still an amateur and was not eligible for the prize money.
“I think the course really suits my game. Every player always has a special course in their heart,” added Atthaya who would go home Bt110,000 richer from the winner’s cheque. “But the different thing is that I finally got the prize money,” Atthaya joked.
However, the Ratchaburi-based had poor starts all week before summoning her brilliant performances at the back nine. On Sunday, she committed three bogeys in the first five holes but raised her level by shooting five birdies after the turn.
“I didn’t know happened but one thing I learned this week is that I could control my mental condition well. My shot game really helped me out there,” said Atthaya who has won eight titles, six after turning professional last year. She has won almost every local women’s events she entered after the COVID break late last year.
Asked if she is the player to beat, Atthaya said: “I’ve never focused on what others view and say of me. I just focus on myself and things that I need to work on. Win or loss comes later.”
The teen prodigy plans to play a mixed tournament in Chiang Mai (in April) which could be her last home event before joining the European Tour in May. Even she is almost invincible on homesoil, she is well aware of the tough challenge playing offshore.
“I will have to learn and adjust to the new condition and environment. I will take it one step at a time,” said Atthaya.
Chakansim, 21 from Khon Kaen, carded a round lowest of 66 to finish second alongside 16-year-old Chanettee on 10 under-par-206. Chakansim has yet to win a title after finishing second twice on the Ladies Philippines Golf Tour and a Thai tour back in 2018.
“I was having fun out there which is why I produced good score. My plan is to finish within top five in all events and would love to play overseas events when the COVID situation gets better,” said Chakansim who earned Bt65,000 as a runner-up.
With an ending 68, Chanettee enjoyed her best finish at joint second in her only third tournament since turning professional late last year.
“I’ve been playing well these days because I feel confident with game. Finishing second in a tournament full of good players is beyond target for a player my age. I hope to continue like this all year round,” Chanettee said.