The two-time Ladies European Tour victor will be joined by rising Thai stars Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, Arpichaya Yubol and Chonlada Chayanun at the Bt1-million Phoenix Ladies Classic.
The opening event of the Thai WPGA features a total of 136 professionals and amateurs competing over 54 holes. After two rounds, the top 60 players will advance to the final showdown.
Atthaya, 18, is returning to the Phoenix Gold course where she made headlines in 2017 by lifting the LET Thailand Championship to become the youngest winner on the LET at only 14 years, four months and 19 days. She then won her second LET Thailand Championship crown at this course two years ago.
“My fellow players and I are looking forward to tournaments [this year]. A tournament by a new association will surely bring a new dimension for us to experience,” said Atthaya from Ratchaburi province.
“I need tournaments to test my game after working really hard in the off season. I’m trying to get momentum, especially for my short game,” added the young star, who competed against the men in the All Thailand Tour mixed tournament last month.
Asked about the Thai WPGA’s bid to organise a local tour that offers world rankings, Atthaya said: “It will be a great opportunity for Thai players as we’ve never had a world-ranking local tour before. It will surely bring Thai women’s golf to another level.”
“I’m always excited to come back to this course as I have great memories here. I could not ask for a better way to prepare for the LET [as a pro] in May than to play a warm-up event at the Phoenix Gold,” she added.
Home player Kanyalak, the second Thai to win the LET Thailand Championship in 2018, is thrilled to play at her backyard course, where she clinched her biggest career victory to date.
“I can’t wait to come back and play this course. I have been working harder, having more rounds of golf after a three-month break. I haven’t changed anything much except my game plan and mindset,” said the Chonburi-based player, who plans to compete on the Korean LPGA Tour later this year.
Of the WPGA tour’s plan to feature world rankings, she said: “This is such great news as we don’t have to travel and compete abroad in order to gain world ranking points.”
Pannarat, an LPGA Tour pro from Roi-Et, said: “It’s great that the Thai WPGA is organising events for us to sharpen our skills. I will need to tune myself up before I return to the LPGA Tour in the US.”
Arpichaya, from Saraburi, said: “It’s always nice to have a new tour which provides another opportunity to catch up and play with fellow competitors. They will be well prepared for this tournament. As for me, I’ve always practising even when there are no tournaments. My goal is to stick to my game plan and enjoy golf out there.”
“As for the world ranking points [on offer], I believe this will motivate players to try even harder. This is a new path for us to climb up the rankings,” said Arpichaya, 18, who beat the men to the Thailand Mixed title in Hua Hin last month.
“It’s always tough to play at the Phoenix Gold due to the green condition and the winds. You need to have a good game plan if you want to play aggressive. You also have to be in a good frame of mind,” she added.
Chonlada from Nakhon Ratchasima said: “I always want to come back to the Phoenix Gold, which is a place I’m quite familiar with. I played well here in 2018. I’m now fixing some weak points [in my game] and playing 3-4 rounds of golf a week in order to gain my momentum.
“Thai players will benefit a lot from this, especially as it will pave the way to the LPGA Q-School. We all want to have world ranking [points].”
Published : March 16, 2021
By : THE NATION