Career and key positions
- 2017 : Won the Thailand European Ladies Championship on the Ladies European Tour, became the top female amateur in the world rankings, won the individual and team gold medals at the SEA Games.
- 2018 : Won the mixed team gold medal at the Youth Olympics with Vanchai Luangnitikul, won the Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship.
- 2019 : Won her second Thailand European Ladies Championship title.
- 2020 : Turned professional, won five times on the Thai LPGA Tour.
Teen prodigy Atthaya: the next superstar of women's golf?
Only three Thai golfers — sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn and Jasmine (Thidapa) Suwannapura — have ever won on the LPGA Tour. Teenage prodigy Atthaya Thitikul could well follow in their footsteps as a champion on the women's elite circuit.
Ms Atthaya, 18, is tipped to be the next big thing in golf, having become the world's top-ranked amateur in 2017.
The teenager's rise on the international stage began in 2017 when she won a Ladies European Tour (LET) event — the Thailand European Ladies Championship — in Pattaya.
At 14 years, four months and 17 days old, it made her the youngest-ever winner of a professional golf event.
A few days later, she became the first Thai to top the women's world amateur golf rankings and later that year, she claimed both individual and team titles at the 2017 SEA Games.
In 2018, she was crowned champion at the inaugural Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship and took the mixed team gold medal at the Youth Olympics.
Ms Atthaya won the Thailand European Ladies Championship again in 2019 before turning professional in January last year, when she was only 16.
“I’m very excited to turn pro. I still have a lot to learn but I am ready for the challenge ahead," she said then.
"I am doing it right now because I want a true challenge. Although I am only 16, I felt like I was a veteran amateur golfer.
"Is this [turning pro] too soon? I don't think so. I am confident that I am ready in terms of preparation and experience."
Nicknamed "Jeen", Ms Atthaya opted to play mainly on the LET to hone her skills before seeking her membership card for the LPGA Tour.
Ms Atthaya made her LET debut at the 2020 NSW Open in Australia, finishing tied for fourth place and earning her first pay cheque of 8,505 euros (310,000 baht).
Unfortunately, that was her only LET appearance last year due to travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The young star shifted her focus to the domestic front and played on the Thai LPGA Tour, where she proved to be in a class of her own, winning five tournaments.
Ms Atthaya won 1.29 million baht in prize money from nine tournaments in the 2020 Thai LPGA Tour season and claimed the Order of Merit award.
In all, she earned 1.6 million baht from her first 10 tournaments as a professional.
"The first win was my best moment of last year," Ms Atthaya recalled.
“It was so special because I had struggled before winning my first title as a pro. After some poor results, I worked much harder. Success is a result of hard work."
She plans to play in Thailand early this year before flying to Europe in mid-year, provided the Covid-19 outbreak does not worsen.
She is hoping she will be able to compete in the qualifying school for the KLPGA Tour in South Korea or the LPGA Tour in the US later this year.
Ms Atthaya, who averaged 260 yards (238 metres) from the tee last year, said she needed to improve her drive and short game.
"I want to add 10 yards to my driving distance and sharpen my short game," she said.
"There is always room for improvement."