Atthaya Thitikul: Thai teen turns into second youngest girls’s world No. 1 golfer



CNN
 — 

Carrying the load of a kid prodigy tag might be daunting, although clearly not for Atthaya Thitikul.

5 years after bursting onto the scene as golf’s youngest ever champion, the 19-year-old Thai took her meteoric rise to new heights to develop into the ladies’s world No. 1 on Monday.

Thitikul leapfrogged Ko Jin-young to the highest of the rankings on the age of 19 years, eight months and 11 days.

In doing so Thitikul turns into the second youngest golfer to succeed in the summit of the ladies’s sport.

Solely world No. 3 Lydia Ko achieved the feat at a youthful age, reaching the top aged 17 years, 9 months and 9 days in February 2015.

Already a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Thitikul can also be solely the second participant – after Park Sung-hyun – to have reached the world No.1 slot of their rookie season.

“It means a lot for my team, my family, my supporters and myself. It is such an honor to have my name at the top amongst the biggest names of the game,” mentioned Thitikul.

“It is very special to get to the top but it is much harder to retain it. I still have a lot to learn from all the legends and current players both on and off the course. I will continue to work hard for my family, my team, my fans and my country.”

Thitikul made headlines all over the world in 2017 when, simply 4 months after her 14th birthday, she gained the Women European Thailand Championship to develop into the youngest winner of an expert golf match.

Since turning skilled in 2020, the teenager has steadily climbed up the rankings.

She broke into the top-100 for the primary time in July 2021, surging to 61st the next month with a shocking fifth-place end on the Evian Championship.

After including her fourth win on the Women European Tour (LET) on the Swiss Women Open, Thitikul secured her card for the LPGA Tour in December, setting the stage for her rookie season this yr.

Forward of the opening occasion in January, she was ranked 18th. By the point she clinched her first LPGA Tour win on the JTBC Traditional in California in March, Thitikul was already world No.5 on her first entry into the highest 10.

With seven-top 10 finishes, Thitikul by no means dropped decrease than sixth earlier than including her second LPGA title on the Arkansas Championship in September.

Two consecutive top-10 outings adopted earlier than a sixth-place end on the BMW Women Championship final month, securing Thitikul sufficient rating factors to oust South Korea’s Jin-young from prime spot after 38 weeks on the summit.

Ko was the LPGA’s rookie of the yr in 2014, however needed to wait till her second season on the Tour to develop into world No.1, albeit at virtually two years youthful than Thitikul.

Including her 18th LPGA title on the BMW Women Championship, two-time main champion Ko has already loved a profession most would dream of.

Nonetheless solely 25, the New Zealander is as well-placed as any to talk to the pressures of being labeled a toddler prodigy, and predicted Thitikul’s imminent rise to the highest following her most up-to-date win.

“The golf that Atthaya has been playing has been absolutely amazing,” Ko mentioned. “I believe she’s obtained a run to be world No.1.

“Having been in that position I think it’s such a cool experience and it seems like she’s handling all the media pressure really well. That just shows what kind of a world class player she is.”

Ko is congratulated by Thitikul after winning the BMW Championship last month.

Thitikul is the second Thai participant to assert the ladies’s prime spot after Ariya Jutanugarn in 2017, and leads a current surge in thrilling younger gamers to emerge from her nation.

In April, compatriot Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat grew to become the youngest male participant to win on a significant Tour, only a month after his fifteenth birthday.

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