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Atthaya Thitikul lauds fellow Thais' support following second LPGA win at Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
LPGA rookie Atthaya Thitikul paid tribute to her fellow Thai players following her second tour victory at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.
"I think it's pretty good that we have like a lot of Thai players out here on the LPGA Tour. Seem like we have friends to hang out with and then like talk Thai with. It means a lot to me to have them like behind my back. Like, I mean, if they have some good day or bad day I am behind their back as well," said the 19-year-old phenom.
After defeating Danielle Kang on the second playoff hole.Thitikul was mobbed by compatriots Pajaree Anannarukarn and Pornanong Phatlum who finished fourth.
"We kind of like support each other, and then I think it's pretty special that today we got Pajaree here. I thought she left already. I just saw her face and I was like, oh, are you here?
"And Pornanong, I have been looking to her as a role model when I was young as well. She is super like good and then super sweet, kind of like a big sister that is nice to and kind to all the Thai players. Yeah, so glad that we have them," noted Thitikul.
Thitikul had taken the lead at Pinnacle Country Club with a stunning third round 61, but was caught by Kang after 72 holes on 17-under-par when the American pitched in for eagle at the par-five 18th.
In the playoff, the pair matched pars on the par-three 15th. Both had looks for birdie at the par-four 16 – Kang from the back fringe and Thitikul from around 15 feet. Kang’s putt raced by and Thiitikul nailed hers to cap off a stellar week of golf.
Thitikul became a Rolex First-Time Winner earlier this season at the JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol, also in a playoff. She is now the fourth Thai player with multiple wins on the LPGA Tour, joining Ariya Jutanugarn (12), Jasmine Suwannapura (2) and Moriya Jutanugarn (2). Thitikul is also the fourth player with multiple wins this season, alongside Jennifer Kupcho (3), Minjee Lee (2) and Brooke Henderson (2).
“I have to say that I really want to win. When I go out and play every event, I think every player wants to win tournaments,” said Thitikul, who moved up to fourth in the season-long Race To CME Globe standings.
"It means a lot to me as well to get my second win, because it seems like you prove that you can do it, even you're not like three or four groups before the final group. But I'm in the final group, and then just prove myself that, yeah, you can do it. It's really special for me.”
For Kang, the solo second was her best result since the Gainbridge LPGA at BocaRio as well as her best finish since her return to competitive golf in August after undergoing treatment for a tumor on her spine.
"There is a lot riding on this event, but with that going on, the way my team had built me into coming here is where I get emotional and so thankful,” said the 29-year-old, who has six LPGA wins to her name including a Major at the 2017 Women's PGA Championship.