Thai star Atthaya eyes LPGA Tour card
Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul is heading to the US to compete in the final stage of the LPGA qualifying school in a bid to secure a tour card.
The 18-year-old prodigy capped an impressive first season on the Ladies European Tour (LET) with third place in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana, the circuit's final event of the year, on Sunday.
The Ratchaburi native entered the last tournament of the LET season having already won the Race to Costa del Sol and Rookie of the Year titles.
Despite adding the honours to her already impressive list of accolades this year, Atthaya believes this just is the beginning and she is striving to keep improving.
"It was really amazing for me this year. People might say I'm successful already, but this is only the start. My goal is to get better every single day. I don't want to just win tournaments but also to get better in my game. You win tournaments, but you still need to improve," she said.
In what was a remarkable first season on the LET, the teenager had a stellar record, only finishing outside the top six in individual events on three occasions.
Following in the footsteps of Laura Davies, Carlota Ciganda and Esther Henseleit, the Thai talent becomes the fourth player to win both the Race to Costa del Sol and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season.
Atthaya also became the youngest winner of the Race to Costa del Sol crown, surpassing Charley Hull's previous record and was delighted to be able to play in the Costa del Sol region last week.
"It is a pleasure to have been able to play in the Costa del Sol region this [last] week as the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol champion. It means the world to me," said the teenager.
"I am honoured to have won this title in my first full season on the Ladies European Tour."
She won two tournaments this year at the Czech Ladies Open and Swiss Ladies Open to add to the two Ladies European Thailand Championship titles she won in 2017 and 2019 while still an amateur.
She turned pro last year but could not travel to Europe due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"All the hard work I put in last year has paid off," said Atthaya.
Atthaya has risen from No.308 to No.22 in the world rankings and is the second highest-ranked Thai after No.13 Pattaya Tavatanakit.
She was also runner-up at the LPGA Thailand and was tied for second at the Women's Scottish Open this year.
LET CEO Alexandra Armas said: "Atthaya is a deserving winner of the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol title and we are delighted to present her with the award. She has proved to be the model of consistency in her first full season on tour and this title is further reward for the hard work she has put in to become a champion."