After 15 years of striving, the golfers of the Golden Temple have broken the position of alternating dominating the LPGA Tour between the US and Korea for more than two decades.

The Americans no longer monopolize the international native women’s golf tournament system after the victory of Korean player Pak Se Ri at the major Women’s US Open 1998. Since then, these two countries have taken turns to dominate the LPGA Tour.

But this year, the dipole turned into a crane, as Thailand overtook South Korea, and is second only to the US in title statistics. The entire arena currently has 220 full-time members, including 125 players from 32 countries.

At the end of the major Women’s Open on August 22, the LPGA Tour through 22 stages recorded Thai golfers winning four events, Korea winning three titles, and the US winning seven trophies. Particularly in the latest event, there were three Thai golfers in the top 10.

The champions from Thailand include Patty Tavatanakit, Pajaree Anannarukarn and Moriya sisters Ariya Jutanugarn. Tavatanakit surprised the experts with his victory at the major ANA Inspiration in April despite having just launched the LPGA Tour. In 50 years of tournament history, she is the second rookie to win the championship.

Patty Tavatanakit bathed in Lake Poppie on April 4, in the tradition of major ANA Inspiration champions.  Photo: Reuters

Patty Tavatanakit bathed in Lake Poppie on April 4 in the tradition of major ANA Inspiration champions. Photo: Reuters

Tavatanakit continued to the T26 US Open, T5 PGA Championship and T7 Women’s Open, thereby winning the “Outstanding major player” award. In addition, she is leading the competition for the title of “Excellent Rookie”.

From 2015 to now, the LPGA Tour has recorded Thai players ranked third in the number of championships, while South Korea ranked first (55) and the US second (37). And the 18 titles of Thais in the past six years are a big improvement compared to their 32 times in the top 10 between 2006-2015.

Experts commented that Thai golf today has been successful since 2006 – the year of Honda LPGA Thailand’s launch – an event under the LPGA Tour to date.

Two years earlier, the LPGA Tour had only one Thai player – Russy Gulyanamitta. In the 2006 season, only one representative of this country reached the top 10 once – Virada Nirapathpongporn ranked 5th in the LPGA Corning Classic.

On the occasion of the LPGA Tour’s arrival in Thailand, the title sponsor awarded a special place to local players. Thanks to that, Pornanong Phatlum and Jasmine Suwannapura entered the US arena for the first time. They are still playing the LPGA Tour, in which Suwannapura has won two trophies. In the Women’s Open alone, both finished second, Phatlum 2018, Suwannapura 2020.

In the period 2009-2017, sisters Jutanugarn, Tavatanakit and Anannarukarn respectively started their journey to conquer the LPGA Tour from LPGA Thailand. And on May 9, these three Thai players finished in the top 3, in which Ariya won at -22 points, helping the Southeast Asian country win the championship for the first time after 15 years of hosting LPGA Thailand.

LPGA Thailand isn’t just about golf. The organizers also inspire children in this sport in the country through technical lessons and exchanges with LPGA Tour stars.

It was Tavatanakit who had the opportunity to open her eyes through such activities in 2012. She was also photographed with Paula Creamer – an American star who has won 10 championships, including the major US Women’s Open 2010.

“It’s really positive. Watching it makes me more determined to fulfill my dream of winning a championship, like this one,” said Tavatanakit, holding ANA Inspiration, commenting on the impact the domestic event had on his career. private.

Honda LPGA Thailand is the place where many Thai golfers fly high in their careers on the LPGA Tour.  Photo: Bangkok Post

Honda LPGA Thailand is the place where many Thai golfers fly high in their careers on the LPGA Tour. Photo: Bangkok Post

Before Tavatanakit, Ariya Jutanugarn won the 2016 Women’s Open, becoming the first Thai golfer to own a major. It is also the 10-year milestone of LPGA Thailand’s establishment.

The progress of Thai golf bears the mark of learning from Vision54 – a high-performance golf training enterprise headquartered in Arizona, USA. The two co-founders of this business – Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott – have been partners with the Jutanugarn sisters for the past six seasons, and of Tavatanakit for the past two years.

“Our schools are receiving about 15 Thai players. A lot of Thai coaches also want to come to the US for professional training in person or from afar,” Nilsson revealed on Golf Digest.

Thai people continue to invest in LPGA Tour to develop golf in the country.

With the Scottish Open in the middle of this month, Trust Golf is the second title sponsor from Thailand, after Honda. With their own privilege, they have brought many home players to Scotland to attend the tournament. The list of matches recorded 11 Thai representatives, in which Ariya ranked T4 and Atthaya Thitikul T2 overall.

Quoc Huy

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