23 Feb 2022

Atthaya Thitikul – On her way to the top

Having broken the record for youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event at just 14 years, 4 months and 19 days old in 2017, the future always looked bright for Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul. Now 18 years old, Thitikul has once again shown why she is a force to be reckoned with in the coming years after adding two more LET titles to her name last season to become the youngest winner of the Race to Costa del Sol, while following in the footsteps of Dame Laura Davies, Carlota Ciganda and Esther Henseleit in becoming just the fourth player to win both the season-long rankings and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season.

In what has been a remarkable first season on Tour, the teenager had a stellar record on the golf course only finishing outside the top six in individual events on three occasions, before putting the icing on the cake by securing an LPGA Tour card at Qualifying School in December last year. Now ranked inside the top 20 of the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings her journey to the top is only just beginning.

Worldwide Golf: Congratulations on securing your LPGA card. How did you find the toughness of Qualifying School compared to an ordinary strokeplay tournament?

Atthaya Thitikul: For me the most difficult thing to adjust to was the time difference from Spain to U.S. to after coming straight from the LET’s season-ending event in Costa del Sol. You also need to learn how to stay patient for eight rounds of golf and how fast you can adapt yourself to play with 2-3 different golf courses. I’m really happy and feel so good to able to get the card because it was one of my dreams when I was young.

WWG: Were you feeling confident heading to Qualifying School after your superb maiden season on the LET?

AT: I had great confidence coming from playing on the LET but I tried to keep my mind focused and told myself that I just do it the same way that I usually do.

WWG: What was the standout moment for you en route to winning the Race to Costa del Sol?

AT: I actually liked the first win of my professional career on the LET, the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open, because I think the first win as a professional is the toughest.

WWG: How difficult was it to play your first full season on the LET at just 18 years old, especially during the pandemic?

AT: It is the first year that I have been away from home for three or four months, it has been tough, but it has been an experience I can learn from. I have travelled without my parents, usually my dad always travels with me, but I have been here with my manager and my caddie. I feel really grateful to be out here and competing in international tournaments.

WWG: You’re still the youngest ever winner on the LET with that victory at the Ladies European Thailand Championship in 2017. How did it feel winning against such a great field at such a young age?

AT: At that time I felt so good and was honoured to be crowned the LET’s youngest winner in the world. I would say that no words can describe my feeling at that moment.

WWG: You waited until 2020 to turn professional despite two victories on the pro circuit before that. Were you ever tempted to turn pro at an earlier age or did you always have a plan in mind?

AT: I had been talking about turning pro with my parents. They wanted me to turn professional at an earlier age but I told them that I wasn’t ready and that I still had areas to improve and I’ll turn pro when I feel ready.

WWG: You’re set to play in all the Majors next year. Does the game plan change for the bigger events or is it simply a case of do what you’ve been doing and the results will follow?

AT: I think I’ll be doing the same as I’ve been doing previously but maybe I have to see the course first because sometimes you have to adapt yourself to suit with the course. I will play mainly on the LPGA and if I have a chance I’ll probably play on the LET as well.

WWG: How many times have you managed to play in the UAE?

AT: Last year was my first time playing in Dubai. I went to the desert for the night safari and I loved it. I haven’t had a chance to play many courses in Dubai yet but I would say the course that we play the Dubai Moonlight Classic on, the Faldo Course, was one of my favourite courses on last year’s schedule.

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