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A major champion ends an emotional week in her home country with tears—and a much-needed victory

February 25, 2024
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Patty Tavatanakit celebrates victory following win at the Honda LPGA Thailand in her home country, her first LPGA title since claiming the 2021 Chevron Championship.

Thananuwat Srirasant

What appeared like a crowning day for Patty Tavatanakit in her home country turned into the Thai escaping with victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand. She squandered a five-stroke lead on the back nine but recovered with a pair of crucial birdies down the stretch for a closing 67 at Siam Country Club to win by one over Albane Valenzuela with a 21-under-par 267 total. Here's how Tavatanakit earned her second career LPGA title.

Leaderboard

Win: Patty Tavatanakit (-21)

2: Albane Valenzuela (-20)

T-3: Sei Young Kim (-18)

T-3: Hye-Jin Choi (-18)

T-5: Natthakritta Vongtaveelap (-17)

T-5: Hyo Joo Kim (-17)

What it means

Despite the victory nearly slipping through her fingers, the 2021 Chevron Championship winner is peaking. Tavatanakit has won on back-to-back weeks after claiming victory at the Ladies European Tour's Saudi Ladies Open last week.

The 24-year-old’s dominant stretch is partly due to her choice last year to focus on strengthening her body to handle the strain of four rounds of competitive golf. She struggled on the course, including a last-place finish at the Honda last year, earning only two top-10 finishes on the LPGA in 2023. Tavatanakit improved 29 strokes from last year's eight-over-par performance.

She also further etched herself into Thai golf lore, as Tavatanakit became the second native to win the Honda in the tournament's 17-year history alongside Ariya Jutanugarn (2021). Those are also the country's only two major champions.

How it happened

Despite all eyes on Tavatanakit Sunday, she appeared in total control through the opening side. Tavatanakit held a three-shot 54-hole lead and expanded it to five strokes after a birdie-birdie start.

It took the ridiculously hot putting of Valenzuela, 24, to put heat on Tavatanakit's lead. The Swiss player, searching for a first career LPGA title, one-putted her final 11 holes to charge up the leaderboard.

Siam Country Club Old Course's drivable 261-yard par-4 15th proved near calamitous for Tavatanakit. The long-bomber chunked a 3-wood off the tee, with her ball almost dribbling into the penalty area. She scrambled to save a bogey, one of only three scores of bogeys or worse made on the hole in the final round, to end up only a stroke ahead of Valenzuela. The major champion's lead dissipated before her next hole as Valenzuela birdied the 17th to tie the lead.

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Albane Valenzuela got hot with her putter on Sunday at Siam Country Club, which helped her tie Patty Tavatanakiet during the final round after trailing by five early in the day.

Thananuwat Srirasant

"This is one of the hardest adversities I have to overcome in front of the fans after making the bogey," Tavatanakit said. "I was just like, you know what? Let's just do it. Whatever it is, bring it on. I'm up for the challenge."

Tavatanakit described eyeing her target like a sniper on the par-3 16th and delivered a shot ending up inside six feet of the flag as the hometown crowd began chanting her name. She drained the putt to reclaim the lead.

Valenzuela birdied the short par-5 18th to close a career-best round of 63, tying Tavatanakit again and holding the clubhouse lead. Valenzuela needed only 19 putts in one of the highest-pressure rounds of her career.

"For all the people that told me I could not putt, there you go," she said.

Tavatanakit responded with clutch play of her own, ending the tournament without really needing her putter on the 18th. With her third shot, and eagle chip, from just off the green, Tavatanakit left it within a foot of the hole. Before her caddie Jason Hamilton could hand Tavatanakit her flat stick, she began tearing up, realizing she had won and that her parents could watch her win professionally for the first time.

Quotable

"I'm honestly speechless right now," Tavatanakit said. "I was so nervous today. I don't know if I showed it a little bit, but playing in front of the fans, I mean, everyone came out and they supported me; it gave me a little bit of an extra boost."

Best of the rest

• Defending champion Lilia Vu (-16, T-7) impressively turned her week around after a first-round 73, including a 40 on the back nine. The No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Rankings shot three consecutive 67s to end up in the top 10.

• Natthakritta Vongtaveelap (-17, T-5) impressed in her first LPGA start since getting disqualified from the U.S. Women's Open for using a rangefinder last July after taking an extended medical leave due to a season-ending knee injury. The Thai finished runner-up at the Honda last year.