Atthaya aims for March return to LPGA

Atthaya aims for March return to LPGA

Former world No.1 nursing sore thumb but expects to rejoin tour in Arizona

Atthaya Thitikul lines up a putt during the second round of the Simone Asia Pacific Cup in Jakarta in December last year. She went on to win the Ladies Asian Tour Series event by a commanding seven strokes.
Atthaya Thitikul lines up a putt during the second round of the Simone Asia Pacific Cup in Jakarta in December last year. She went on to win the Ladies Asian Tour Series event by a commanding seven strokes.

Atthaya Thitikul, out all season due to a thumb injury, hopes to return to action late next month in Arizona, her agent has told Golfweek.

The 21-year-old Thai star was conspicuous by her absence from last weekend’s Honda LPGA Thailand 2024 tournament in Chon Buri, which was won by compatriot Patty Tavatanakit.

The victory helped Patty move up to 27th place from 43rd in the latest Rolex Rankings of the world’s top women golfers.

Atthaya became the world’s top-ranked player for a stretch in 2022 en route to winning LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year honours. Last year, she won the Vare Trophy that goes to the player with the lowest scoring average on tour. She closed the 2023 LPGA season with four top-4 finishes in her last five starts. She is still ranked 11th in the world despite not having seen any action yet this season.

Atthaya’s agent told Golfweek that her left thumb tendon injury has a recovery window of six to eight weeks. That could result in her joining the tour at the Ford Championship, scheduled for March 28-31 in Gilbert, Arizona.

Atthaya owns two wins on tour, both in 2022: the JTBC Classic and Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She captured both in playoffs. In 2023, she became the only player in the 70-year history of the Vare Trophy to earn the award without winning a tournament.

“I had no idea I was going to win the Vare Trophy, to be honest,” she said after wrapping up the honour at the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida last November.

“In the middle of the season, I played really bad. I mean, I missed two cuts in the major events and then also was not playing quite good in the middle of the year. So, I think it’s really (meaningful) for me when I was able to bounce back from really (being) uncomfortable when I didn’t have any confidence.

“(I’m) really happy that I got over it, got past it, overcame it.”

Atthaya first competed in the Honda LPGA Thailand three days after her 14th birthday and finished 37th. She finished second to Ariya Jutanugarn in 2021 before becoming a member of the LPGA. Last year she placed third in the event, won by Lilia Vu of the US, the current world No.1.

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