CLIFTON, NEW JERSEY | Nineteen-year-old Atthaya Thitikul fired a 9-under par 63 in the final round of the Cognizant Founders Cup to tie the low round of the week. The other two 63s came from Madelene Sagstrom in the opening round and Minjee Lee on Friday. Lee won the 2022 Founders Cup with an incredible score of 19-under par and Sagstrom finished tied for third with Angel Yin at 16-under par. As for the teenaged Thitikul, her 9-under Sunday vaulted her up the leaderboard to 13 under overall and tied for eighth.
"Yesterday afternoon, I had a talk with my coach. My coach tells me you have to think every final round you hit a solid round. He was, like, ‘Just be you and be as aggressive as you can and no matter what happens, it's just another day playing golf out here,’" Thitikul said.
Atthaya had four birdies in a row on the front nine and two more streaks on holes eight and nine and holes 12 through 14, finishing with a final birdie on 18.
"I would say at first, at the driving range, I kept telling myself just go have fun and kick in. On No. 3, I hit a really good shot. No. 3 it’s a tough hole, really tough green to be close to the pin. So I hit it pretty close and I made it," she said.
The Thailand native made birdie on 12 every round this tournament and birdied the fifth hole three out of four times.
"Twelve was a par-5 and I made birdie every day. I hit it pretty close on 13. Fourteen was a par-5. I was rolling my putts really well today," Thitikul said.
That ambitious play during the final round paid off for Atthaya, who is known for playing more aggressively at the end of tournaments. She also played her best golf on the final day when she won the JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol earlier this year, carding 8-under par.
"That's what (my caddie) said to me. You're being aggressive, and you had a very good charge. Why don't you be aggressive the first day and second day as well? I say, ‘I want to be. Being aggressive is good, but in the opposite way, if it's not good, your day is gone,’" she said.
Thitikul has had five career top-10 finishes during the 2022 season, four of which saw her shoot her lowest score on the final day.
The fog that delayed play on Sunday morning didn't hinder Atthaya from capitalizing on birdies once again during the final round of the Founders Cup. While waiting 15 minutes between holes, she said she just joked around with her caddie and managers.
"I knew it was going to be a delay. On the putting green, they were, like, it's going to be delayed for sure, but I just keep myself stretched and warming muscles to be ready to tee off," Thitikul said.
Atthaya said she was happy her coach was here with her this week, and that she got to work with him since Monday.
"I got more confident being with him, working with him last week as well,” she said. “He will be with me next week. It's a week off so I can work a little bit before match-play and the U.S. Women's Open.”