Atthaya Thitikul lifted the leading amateur trophy at the ANA Inspiration on Sunday.
The Thai teenager booked her place at the first women’s major of the year after lifting the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific trophy at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore in February – four days after her 15th birthday.
Thitikul’s dramatic wire-to-wire victory after a four-way play-off also secured further exemptions into the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Anne’s in August and the 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship held at Sentosa the following week - where she recorded a top ten finish.
Playing alongside Michelle Wie on Sunday at Mission Hills in California, Thitikul recorded a three-under-par 69 to add to the 71, 72, 72 for an overall five-under-par 283.
Up against the best in the world, that score saw her in finish in a tie for 30th in good company with playing partner Wie, Mirim Lee, In Gee Chun, Han Na Jang, Cristie Kerr and current Ricoh Women’s British Open champion IK Kim.
With the then-leading amateur Albane Valenzuela teeing off on Sunday in tied 12th, Thitikul learned much later of her latest triumph after the 20-year-old Swiss recorded a seven-over-par 79 to drop down the leaderboard to 59th.
After the championship was suspended during a play-off between Inbee Park, Pernilla Lindberg and Jennifer Song due to fading light, a delighted Thitikul beamed through the darkness as she picked up her trophy.
“First of all, I would like to thank you ANA Inspiration for organising a wonderful event and giving me the chance to play here with all the nice players,” said the 15-year-old. “The ANA Inspiration hasn’t just given me a chance, but all the amateurs who have played. Thank you to all the sponsors, staff and volunteers.
“And especially, a thank you the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific for giving me a great opportunity and always cheering and supporting me.”
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has been developed by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) and The R&A to nurture talent and provide a pathway for the region’s elite women amateurs to the international stage.
The Royal Golf Club in Japan will host the second edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship from April 25-28, 2019. The winner will again earn invitations to the ANA Inspiration and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.