Atthaya Thittikul further cemented her rising-star status on Sunday with a playoff victory over major champion Danielle Kang to become the fourth multiple winner of the 2022 LPGA Tour season.
Stardom found Thittikul early. At the age of 14 she became the youngest player, male or female, to win a professional golf tournament. And with her victory on Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship she took another step toward megastar status as she joined Minjee Lee, Brooke Henderson, and Jennifer Kupcho as the only players to win more than once this season. Thittikul also became the first rookie since Sung Hyun Park in 2017 to win multiple times. The 19-year old’s maiden win came in March at the JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol.
“It means a lot to me as well to get my second win because you prove that you can do it,” Thittikul said after her victory on Sunday. “It means the world to me on rookie year [to] win twice already. And then, yeah, it's kind of like a big [achievement] as well.”
On the heels of her win, Thittikul and the LPGA Tour make the five hour trip south from Rogers, Arkansas to The Colony, Texas for the 10th playing of The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.
The Lone Star State has produced some of the biggest names to have ever picked up a golf club. Names like Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson. But they don't come any bigger than Kathy Whitworth, the winningest golfer in history with 88 victories, who has long called Texas her home. The Hall of Famer has been a fixture at the LPGA Tour’s annual stop in her state and the winner of Whitworth’s junior tournament has earned a berth to compete in the tournament.
A star-studded field is poised to compete at Old American Golf Club, where Nelly Korda, the top-ranked American, makes her tournament debut. The Olympic Gold medalist is joined by eight of the top-10 players in the Race to the CME Globe Standings including Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, and Celine Boutier. Defending champion Jin Young Ko will not defend her title for the second time this season as she continues to rehab an ongoing wrist injury.
The trip to Texas signals the final stretch of the LPGA Tour season with just six events remaining on the schedule. These last few playing opportunities present a last chance for players to earn the coveted points needed in order to qualify for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. The top 60 in the point standings will be eligible. A strong finish in each of the last six events will also give players a chance to further solidify, or to advance, in the season-long races for the Rolex Player of the Year, Money Title, Vare Trophy, and Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year.
As the old saying goes, ‘everything’s bigger in Texas.’ Well, the stakes don’t get much bigger than what is up for grabs as the LPGA Tour winds into its final stretch of the year. And it all continues Thursday as the race to identify the superstars of the 2022 LPGA Tour season swings into the Lone Star State.