It's a welcome change of fortune for Patty

It's a welcome change of fortune for Patty

This time last year Thai golfer Patty Tavatanakit finished last in the Honda Thailand tournament and must have been wondering what the future would hold. Just two years earlier she had stunned the golfing world with a magnificent performance to win the Chevron Championship, a major and her first LPGA victory. It included the traditional celebratory dip in Poppie's Pond.

But since those heady days her performances had nosedived. She experienced a miserable 2022 in which she suffered a string of missed cuts and general loss off form. Of course these things happen in top class golf even to the best players. All it takes is the player to be a fraction "off" their game and life becomes a struggle.

Last season there were signs of recovery although nothing spectacular. Being in the Thai team that convincingly won the Hanwha International crown helped boost her confidence. But this year things have turned around for Patty.

Two weeks ago she surprised everyone by comfortably winning the Aramco Saudi Ladies International on the European Tour. Patty entered the event primarily to get in trim for upcoming LPGA tournaments but ended up winning by seven strokes. It was a huge emotional boost.

"It's been a long time since I've played that good," Patty commented after her Saudi victory. Little did she know it was going to get a whole lot better.

It's history now but last Sunday afternoon Patty was proudly holding the Honda LPGA Thailand trophy after a masterful one-shot victory at the Old Course of the Siam Country Club. After all her past disappointments no wonder she burst into tears when it finally sunk in. It was a truly emotional victory.

Patty had started the day three shots up and after a fine opening nine that included three birdies, at the turn she seemed poised for victory.

However, the back nine was a different story. Although Patty still played steadily she was missing birdie putts by inches. And when she suffered a bogey at the 15th it became clear that Switzerland's Albane Valenzuela who was enjoying a superb round was posing a real challenge for the title.

Valenzuela, playing two groups ahead finished at the 18th on nine-under 63 and Patty knew a birdie would win her the coveted title.

How she held her nerve with all the spectator pressure is quite remarkable and she displayed huge mental strength by staying calm. She was rewarded when her third shot, a tricky chip, finished just inches from the cup leaving a tap-in birdie for the title.

There were wonderful scenes at the 18th as the other 10 Thai players in the tournament, among them 2021 winner Ariya Jutanugarn, rushed onto the green to congratulate Patty. They knew how emotionally important it was for her. More tears followed with hugs from her mum.

Patty was quick to acknowledge everyone who had helped her through difficult times. She said she had experienced "a lot of emotions. I felt so proud... it was a dream come true."

The fact there were 11 Thai participants in this event shows how strong Thai ladies golf is at the moment.

Natthakritta Vongtaveelap who was runner-up last year, gave another excellent display finishing tied fifth after a tremendous seven-under 65. Jaravee Boonchant also performed well to tie for ninth while Ariya showed a welcome return to form to finish tied 13th.

Like many Thai golfers Patty was inspired by Tiger Woods. At the age of eight she watched Tiger win on TV and told her father, "I would like to be like that one day.'' Well, you never know.

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