You can’t miss Pornanong Phatlum on the LPGA this year.
First off, you notice the colorful, matching Loudmouth-branded outfits that Pornanong and her brother/caddie Pornpong wear each week. That’s eye catching.
But even more impressive is the track record that the 24-year-old native of Thailand has produced over the last three months. She has three consecutive finishes in the top five on the LPGA, five overnight leads on the LPGA since September and a victory on the Ladies European Tour. Phatlum had a career-best year on the LPGA in 2013 ($600,210, 23rd on the money list) and has risen to 32nd in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for a country that is quickly establishing itself as a women’s golf powerhouse.
Here’s a look at how Phatlum has fared recently:
- She led after each of the first two rounds of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November and finished T5 at 10-under par.
- At the CME Group Titleholders, she shared the lead entering the final round and placed third.
- Battling Stacy Lewis down the stretch at last December’s Ladies European Tour finale, the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, she birdied the 17th and 18th holes to win by one stroke.
- The hot streak continued at the 2014 season-opening Pure Silk LPGA Bahamas Classic with a T3 finish and a 16-under-par total. That brought her under-par streak on the LPGA to 12 consecutive rounds.
Even with her recent emergence, Phatlum is the veteran among the strong contingent of Thai players who are all younger. Diminutive P.K. Kongkraphan, 22, was the 2013 Symetra Tour Player of the Year and finished T7 last week in The Bahamas. Thidapa Suwannapura, 21, won in India late last year on the Ladies European Tour and placed T11 last week. Moriya Jutanugarn, 19, was the 2013 Louise Suggs LPGA Rookie of the Year. Her younger sister, Ariya, 18, has been out since mid-2013 with a shoulder injury, but the top-ranked Thai (No. 31 in the world this week) is due back on the LPGA in two weeks in Australia.
This contingent bodes well for Thailand’s chances in the inaugural International Crown July 24-27 in Owings Mills, Md. Thailand has risen to fourth in the four-player competition behind South Korea, the United States and Japan.