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ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR

ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR
ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR

Patty Tavatanakit can remember the exact day she dedicated her life to playing golf. It was January 3rd  2008.

It was then that an 8-year old Tavatanakit, from her home in Thailand, watched television footage of Tiger Woods winning a golf tournament. As Woods fist-pumped in celebration, it was at that moment that Tavatanakit decided that she “wanted to be like him one day.”

On Sunday, Tavatanakit fulfilled that dream.

Exactly 4,840 days after a young girl from Bangkok dreamed of winning on the major stage, she earned her maiden win on the LPGA with a victory Sunday at the ANA Inspiration. The win comes just two years after she finished low amateur and posted on social media that she hoped to some day make the leap into Poppie’s Pond.

ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR

“It’s a dream come true,” Tavatanakit said after her round. “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 joins Ariya Jutanugarn as the only two players from Thailand, male or female, to win one of golf’s major championships. On Sunday, she flirted with the 72-hole scoring record at the ANA before finishing at 18 under with a total of 270, one stroke shy of Dottie Pepper’s record that was set in 1999.

“I was trying to go up to 20, but the putts weren’t dropping,” Tavatanakit said. “I wasn’t going to force it. Looking back I would say it was really tough.”

Tavatanakit followed Woods’ footsteps, winning in record-setting fashion and in a way that hasn’t been done in decades on the LPGA. While both were 21 years old when they both won their first major, Tavatanakit did Woods one better, getting her first major victory in her rookie season on Tour. Woods won his first major in his second season on Tour at the 1997 Masters Tournament.

Tavatanakit is the first rookie in more than 30 years to win at Mission Hills Country Club. She’s also just the fourth player to go wire-to-wire at the ANA Inspiration. Again, something not even Woods could do in his first major victory.

“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.”

In 1997, Woods was one of the longest hitters on Tour, second only to John Daly. His length, combined with his all-around game and premium on fitness, signaled a new age in men’s pro golf. Tavatanakit’s victory is having the same impact.

ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR

While many have had the length, few have had the complete game to dominate in a way that Tavatanakit did at Mission Hills. Tavatanakit ranks second on Tour in driving distance at 283 yards. At the ANA Inspiration, she averaged 323 yards off the tee, which gave her an advantage over her competitors as she was able to place her golf ball in places that Golf Channel’s Judy Rankin, the 1976 ANA Inspiration champion, could only marvel.

But Tavatanakit, an AJGA player of the year and first-team All-American at UCLA, is accurate, too. During the week, she hit 84 percent of greens and 66 percent of fairways.

ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR
ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR
ROOKIE THAI GOLFER WINS LPGA MAJOR
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