BMW Ladies Championship
Thai teenager's chance to grab World No. 1 slips away in South Korea, but there will be others
Atthaya Thitikul interacts with fans during the final round of the BMW Ladies Championship on Sunday.
The common take among those who follow the LPGA Tour is that it’s not a question of if Atthaya Thitkul will become the No. 1 women’s golfer in the world, but when. And that’s still the case even if that “when” part must wait a little longer after the finish the 19-year-old from Thailand suffered on Sunday at the BMW Ladies Championship.
Thitkul held a one-shot lead entering the final round at Oak Valley Country Club in Wonju, South Korea. With just a solo fourth-place finish, the LPGA rookie would earn enough world ranking points to pass Jin Young Ko in the standings, Ko having to withdraw from the tournament with a nagging left wrist injury.
But after rounds of 63-71-67, Thitkul, a two-time winner already in 2022, couldn’t find the same rhythm in her final 18 holes. She was two over on her front nine and eventually posted a two-over 74, the only score over par of any player teeing off in the final three threesomes.
Thitkul fell to solo sixth place, eight shots behind eventual winner Lydia Ko, who closed with a 65 to record her 18th career LPGA title.
After Saturday’s third round, Thitkul, trying to become only the second teenager to ascend to No. 1 (Lydia Ko being the first at 17 in 2015), suggested the pressure to claim the title wouldn’t be an extra burden on her come Sunday.
“To be honest, I don't really care about the ranking. I don't really care to be like No. 1 in the world at all because I play golf because I want to take care of my family,” Thitkul said. “I want to feed my family. Whatever I am is fine. Even my family, they have a good life already. Ranking is not that important for me for real.”
Atthaya Thitikul still leads the LPGA rookie of the year race with three events to play.
On Sunday she aimed to paint a positive light on the week overall. “This week is very good week for me. It gave me a good experience and a good memory because there were many things happening at this course, and I did several things well, too,” she said. “Even though the final result was not that good, but it was OK, and I was satisfied with that.”
Thitkul will likely have more chances before the 2022 season ends to jump into the No. 1 spot, especially if Ko can’t play due to her injury. There are three more LPGA events on the calendar, the next coming in two weeks at the Toto Japan Classic.