Home favourite Tavatanakit takes the title in Thailand

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Patty Tavatanakit (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

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Patty Tavatanakit made it back-to-back wins on both the LET and LPGA Tour as she became the second Thai winner of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

After starting the final round with a three-shot lead, she ultimately shot a 5-under 67 to finish -21, with a birdie on the last to take the title.

Tavatanakit immediately put the field on notice, opening with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 1 and 2. After two close misses for birdies on No. 3 and 6, Tavatanakit leveled out the momentum until the seventh, a hole she had gone 4-under on through the first three days (two birdies, one eagle). She went right off the tee near the cart path, but still made birdie after her third shot landed a few feet below the pin to make it a three-shot lead and -19 by the turn.

On No. 10, Tavatanakit missed the green left in a sod area, and chipped it to beautifully to inches for another a birdie to get to -20 and two off the 2023 winning score. After four-straight pars, Tavatanakit carded her first bogey since No. 11 on Saturday on the 15th, chalking it up to just a “bad shot.”

“Overall the commitment, the process was what I wanted to do,” said Tavatanakit of No. 15. “When the ball leaves the club face it was just out of my control, and I did everything you said my control really, really good on that hole.” The Thai native said she had nerves on the 16th tee – the pressure of rebounding after a bogey in front of her hometown crowd as the momentum in the air started to shift – but responded with another birdie, her “favorite” of the week. “I was just like, you know what? Let’s just do it. Whatever it is, bring it on. I’m up for the challenge.”

By the time Tavatanakit reached the 18th, Albane Valenzuela had recorded the back-nine of her life two groups back. With a birdie on No. 1 and a hole-out eagle on No. 5, Valenzuela had made the turn six shots behind Tavatanakit. But the Swiss native turned it up on her final holes as she carded six birdies in her last eight holes, including two on 17 and 18.

“It’s funny, yesterday I felt a little bit more nervous. Today I just had the sense of inner peace that I could do it. I was just foot on the gas and just tried to go get it. I told my dad, ‘let’s go to 20,’” said Valenzuela. “I’m just really just proud of myself. I just fought really hard and I just see that I can make putts under pressure.”

Valenzuela closed with a 9-under 63 for the lowest round of the week and her new career-low 18-hole score on Tour. She waited in the locker room for a potential playoff as Tavatanakit took on the par-5 closing hole. She had 184 yards to the pin, went for it with her 6-iron and came up a bit short of the green in the lower bowl. She chipped up to tap-in length, and the rest was history.

“It was a lot of emotions. It was joy. It was — I felt so proud. And a little bit of — I felt a little tired, too. But overall, you know, like, again, I had so much pressure on me today just playing in front of the home crowd, and I was able to do that. It was just like a dream come true,” said Tavatanakit. “It was like unbelievable. Like I still couldn’t believe I did that today.”

“I want to be in this position more often, and I hope I’ll put myself in this position next time. It’s really fun. I think I’ve never enjoyed playing a Sunday as much as I did today just because of how calm I was,” said Valenzuela. “I told my dad, I finally got out of my way and I really understood a lot about myself today. So really excited to keep this momentum moving forward in the season.”

Sei Young Kim and Hye-Jin Choi tied for third at -18, after both shot 65 and 66, respectively. It’s Kim’s first top-10 finish since a tie for third at the 2023 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, and is her lowest round since a third-round 65 at the 2023 Maybank Championship. Last year’s runner-up Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and major champion Hyo Joo Kim came in a tie for fifth at -17. Defending champion Lilia Vu rebounded from a first-round 73 to shoot 67-67-65 to close out the tournament in a tie for seventh with Emily Kristine Pedersen (-16) as both earn their first top-10 finishes on Tour this season.

“I think I did feel a little bit of the pressure of being like oh, it’s your first time defending. But I love this place. I had a really great time with my parents. I went to dinner with a couple of the players. I went to dinner with Patty and her parents too and it’s been a really fun week,” said Vu. “It’s more than just golf. It’s spending time with people, too. I just always think there are good vibes here and I think it showed in my golf game. First day I got a little shocked by the heat. My strain was 19 on the WHOOP. That’s not normal.”

Four players finished in a tie for ninth at -15, including two-time major champion Brooke Henderson and reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Haeran Ryu. Ryu shot up the leaderboard early with five-straight birdies from Nos. 2-6, and carded a 65 for her eighth-career top-10 finish on Tour since 2018.

It was deja vu for Leona Maguire at the weekend again as she carded a level-par 72 for an eight-under total and a share of 31st place.

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