SINGAPORE, 24 Feb 2018, (HK Golfer News Wire) - Continuing to sing, laugh and joke with experienced caddie Roongroj ‘Yod’ Boonsri, Thitikul carded a closing 71 to join Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (69), the Philippines’ Yuka Saso (68) and New Zealand’s Wenyung Keh (67) with an eight-under total of 276 over the 6,456-yard New Tanjong course.
After narrowly missing birdie-putt chances to win on the first two extra holes on 18, Thitikul tapped in for par on the long par-four 12th before 17-year-old Nishimura missed a long par putt to concede victory. Keh, 20, and Saso, 16, exited after the first and second extra holes respectively.
Thitikul, who only turned 15 on Tuesday, started the event at 53rd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, with recent highlights including becoming the Ladies European Tour’s youngest-ever winner last July and gold medals in the SEA Games individual and team events in Malaysia a month later.
Now, she has earned invitations to the ANA Inspiration (29 March-1 April) at Mission Hills Country Club in California, USA, and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (2-5 August) at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England, as well as next week’s 11th HSBC Women’s World Championship, also at Sentosa Golf Club.
“I’m so excited because this is the first year of this championship. It’s so great that my name is the first one on the trophy,” said Thitikul, who played in her first LPGA event at the Honda LPGA Thailand last February, when she just turned 14.
“Now, I’m so excited to play in two more majors. I’m really looking forward to returning to the Women’s British Open and I would like to make the cut this time, but my main objective is always to play happy and gain more experience.”
Six Japanese and five Koreans finished in the top 20, while five Filipinas finished in the top 30. The original field started with 83 players representing 18 nations, with 48 aged 18 or under, and 53 made the halfway cut.