2021 was a banner year for LPGA Tour rookie Atthaya Thitikul. Playing on the Ladies European Tour, the Thai carded two victories at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open and VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open along with 13 additional top-10 finishes. She completed the LET Triple Crown, winning the Race to Costa del Sol, taking home Rookie of the Year honors and being named Player of the Year. And she earned LPGA Tour Membership after finishing in the top 45 and ties at LPGA Q-Series in December. In short, it’s been a lot, but Thitikul has taken everything in stride and so far, is really enjoying her first year on the LPGA Tour.
“It's fun and tough as well,” said the 19-year-old, who became the youngest player ever to win a professional tournament at the LET's Ladies European Thailand Championship in 2017 at age 14. “There are not many people that I know. There are just a couple of Thai people and Asian people that I know. But it's fun. I’m trying to enjoy and trying to keep learning as much as I can because you have one year as a rookie. I think that the most important thing that other people want is consistency every single week that they play, and that's what I trying to do as well.”
The effort to be consistent has shown in Thitikul’s first four starts on the LPGA Tour. After making the cut in her first official start at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and finishing T45, she rattled off T11, T4 and T8 showings, the last of which came in her home country at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
“I grew up watching the Honda LPGA Thailand when I was young and was there when I like was eight, nine. Watching them play as an amateur and now having played the Honda LPGA Thailand as an LPGA Member, it's so cool,” said Thitikul. “There are no words to describe my feeling. And then all the fans coming to watch and support us, it's really amazing.”
This week’s JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol marks the rookie’s fifth start as a Member and Thitikul is looking forward to the challenge that Aviara Golf Club provides, especially as she prepares to take on the season’s first major next week at the Chevron Championship, an event she has competed in previously as a 16-year-old.
“Being patient is the key for this week, and then keep the momentum going for the next week as well because next week is the biggest week that we are looking forward to,” she said. “It's the first major of the year, so just keep all the confidence, all the momentum going for next week. I want to keep a good stroke out there and tell myself, ‘Hey, if your stroke but it doesn't go in, it doesn't mean it’s your fault. Doesn't mean it at all.’ It depends on how the ball is rolling on the green and how the green reacts to your ball as well. So be patient is the big key.”