Pattaya, Thailand: Two days after creating golfing history, the wide grin could not be wiped off the face of teenager Atthaya Thitikul.
On Sunday, Atthaya became the youngest ever winner on the Ladies European Tour by claiming victory in the Ladies European Thailand Championship aged 14 years, four months and 19 days.
With rounds of 70, 71, 70 and 72, the Thai schoolgirl won by two strokes with a total of 283, five-under-par and she never stopped smiling.
Due to her amateur status, the top prize of 45,000 euros may have gone to second placed Ana Menendez of Mexico. But Atthaya, who only reached a scratch handicap last year, had no regrets.
Reflecting on her success, she said: “I’m so happy and proud of myself. I did not look nervous, but of course I felt nerves on the first tee and on the first hole. I did not think about the score. I committed to every shot I hit and stayed relaxed. My caddie helped me a lot, not to think too much, to focus on my game plan and to plan the tee shots and second shots.
“My family do not play golf. When I was younger, aged six, my father told me to play sport and he offered tennis or golf and I watched golf on TV and I liked it.”
Atthaya, nicknamed ‘Jeen’, had previously demonstrated her potential when finishing tied for 37th in this year’s Honda LPGA Thailand event, which she played in just a few days after her 14th birthday, on February 20.
She then received an invitation to play in the inaugural LET event at Phoenix Golf and Country Club in Pattaya from the tournament sponsor, the Sports Authority of Thailand. Her aim was to make the cut, gain experience and have fun.
Atthaya already has more experience than most other players of her age. Last month, she won the Taiwan Amateur Open after previously being second in the Queen Sirikit Cup in China. Her next big tournament is the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Malaysia.
The previous record for the youngest player to win on the LET was held by Lydia Ko, who won the 2013 New Zealand Open as an amateur aged 15 years, nine months and 17 days. Ko is also the youngest player to win two Majors and become the women’s world number one.
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