Champ Vu faces stiff test in Pattaya

Champ Vu faces stiff test in Pattaya

On-song Patty leads cast of 11 Thai stars

From left Chanettee Wannasaen, Patty Tavatanakit, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, Pornanong Phatlum and Eila Galitsky attend a press conference on Wednesday.
From left Chanettee Wannasaen, Patty Tavatanakit, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, Pornanong Phatlum and Eila Galitsky attend a press conference on Wednesday.

World No.1 Lilia Vu will begin her defence of the Honda LPGA Thailand title at the Siam Country Club Old Course in Pattaya on Thursday as the LPGA Tour kicks off its Asian swing this week.

This year's event features a limited field of 72 players competing in a 72-hole, no-cut event for a purse of US$1.7 million.

The victory in Pattaya became a springboard to Vu's breakout season that saw the American win three more times, including two major titles at The Chevron Championship and AIG Women's Open, in addition to her victory at The Annika, and earn her Player of the Year honours.

Vu will face a strong challenge from a star-studded field, which features third-ranked Celine Boutier, fourth-ranked Yin Ruoning, No.8 Charlie Hull and former No.1 Ko Jin-Young.

Patty Tavatanakit, fresh from her victory at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International in Riyadh on Sunday, will headline a contingent of 11 Thai players, including Pajaree Anannarukarn, Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Chanettee Wannasaen, Jasmine Suwannapura, Pornanong Phatlum, Jaravee Boonchant, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap and amateur players Eila Galitsky and Suvichaya Vinijchaitham, who was the winner of the national qualifiers.

Vu is paired with Ariya and 15-time LPGA Tour winner Ko in the first round on Thursday. The group will tee off at 10.02am.

Meanwhile, Patty said she's happy to be back playing a tournament in Thailand again.

"I am very happy to be playing golf in front of my parents and Thai golf fans this week," said Patty. "But a new tournament is a new start and I need to keep my focus and keep doing things the same way I've been doing in the last two months," added Patty, who will tee off alongside Yin and Boutier at 9.50am.

Happy 'Homecoming'

Returning to the Honda LPGA Thailand and the country of her parents' birth is always a thrill for Boutier.

While Boutier was born in France, her mother and father both hail from Thailand. As such, it's not surprising that she feels a strong affinity with the Land of a Thousand Smiles -- and a golf event that ranks among the country's grandest sporting occasions.

This week marks the 30-year-old's fifth appearance in the tournament.

She's finished in the top four on her past two starts here -- third in 2022 when she shot all four rounds in the 60s and tied fourth last year.

Now ranked third in the world, victory this week in the presence of her parents would be the perfect 'homecoming' gift from Boutier.

"Personally, this tournament means a lot. My parents have come here [this week]. We used to come every summer when I was younger. It definitely means a lot to me, and I hope to do well again this year," said Boutier.

Honda LPGA Thailand 2024 tickets are available in both general admission and VIP categories at www.hondalpgathailand.com.

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