It didn’t take long for Patty Tavatanakit’s dream of one day winning The Chevron Championship to become a reality.
In 2018, as an amateur competing in the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills Country Club, Tavatanakit shared on Snapchat a photo of Poppie’s Pond along with the caption ‘one day.’ Those two, simple words encapsulated all her hopes and dreams of someday becoming the major champion who would make the celebratory leap into Poppie’s Pond.
That year, the young player from Thailand took home low amateur honors. And just 36 months later, Tavatanakit’s ‘one day’ arrived. With her knees bent together and twisted to the side, the 21-year-old leapt into the air, her arms thrust skyward as she realized her dream of winning her first major championship and jumped into the pond beside the 18th green.
"It's a dream come true," Tavatanakit said. "Every time I play here, I remember exactly I was on this green receiving my low amateur award and I saw they were jumping and I took a Snapchat and the caption was, 'One day.' It's been crazy."
Tavatanakit became a Rolex First-Time Winner with her victory at the Chevron Championship and became the early front-runner for the Rolex Annika Major Award. In order to qualify for the Rolex Annika Major Award, a player must win at least one of the season’s five major championships. Players who finished inside the top 10 at The Chevron Championship and at each of the season’s majors were also awarded points.
Lydia Ko, who earned the Rolex Annika Major Award in 2016, finished runner-up to Tavatanakit after a stunning final round, 62 that tied the tournament record previously set by Lorena Ochoa.
Ko began the final round in a tie for sixth, eight strokes behind Tavatanakit. But once Ko carded an opening nine 7-under par, 29 for the best front-nine score in the Tournament’s history, Tavatankit’s five-stroke lead with which she started the day was quickly evaporating.
Tavatanakit was unaware of Ko’s final round charge. She didn’t look at a single leaderboard on championship Sunday. Instead, Tavatanakit maintained the flawless golf that earned her the 36 and 54-hole leads by carding a final round, bogey-free, 68 that included an eagle and two birdies. It was enough for Tavatanakit to remain two shots clear of Ko to capture her first win on the LPGA Tour.
"It still hasn't really sunk in yet the fact that I just turned 21 six months ago and now I'm a major champion in my rookie year," Tavatanakit said. "Just crazy."
Tavatanakit, a rookie in 2021, made history with her victory at Mission Hills. With her win she became only the second player to win The Chevron Championship as a first-year member, a feat that hadn't been achieved since Juli Inkster won in 1984.
The rookie rode her early season success to a tie for fifth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and heading into the season’s final major championship, the AIG Women’s Open, she gave herself a fighting chance to win the Rolex Annika Major Award.
Tavatanakit was one of 13 players who had a mathematical chance of capturing the award at Carnoustie. She sat No. 2 in the point standings, just six points behind Nelly Korda, who held the top spot in the standings with her major win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. But, with an eighth-place finish or better at the AIG Women’s’ Open, Tavatanakit had a shot at passing Korda.
Tavatanakit carded a final round, 67 to finish in a tie for seventh, earning the critical six points needed in order to supplant Korda at the top of the Rolex Annika Major Award point standings. In 2021, Tavatanakit recorded 10 top 10 finishes to also capture the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the year award.
“Feel so honored to end my rookie season being named Rolex Rookie of the year and Rolex Annika Major Award winner,” Tavatanakit posted on her Instagram account. “I still can’t wrap my head around 2021 season, the ups and downs and the ebb and flow of it. I wouldn’t have asked for anything else. This has been a dream come true and an unforgettable year.”