Ariya Jutanugarn becomes first Thai to win Honda LPGA Thailand

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand poses with the trophy on the 8th green after winning the Honda LPGA Thailand at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course on May 09, 2021 in Pattaya, Thailand. (Photo: LPGA)

Ariya Jutanugarn nearly eagled the last hole, and her birdie was enough to cap an amazing comeback and win this year’s Honda LPGA Thailand 2021 at Siam Country Club.

Ariya finished her final round May 9 with a nine under par 63, barely missing the course record of 62 set by Jessica Korda in 2018. Ariya finished with the clubhouse lead at 22 under par, then waited nervously for teen sensation Atthaya Thitikul to come in.

The wait was extended when a dangerous weather system moved through. The horn sounded, instructing everyone to exit the course and seek shelter, just as Atthaya was about to hit her final approach to the 18th. The delay lasted an hour, after which play resumed.

Atthaya led all afternoon, sometimes by as much as two strokes. Her three putt bogey on the 17th meant she needed to birdie the shortened par five 18th to force a playoff. An eagle would have won it outright.

Her approach went long, leaving her with a tricky, and dangerous, attempt at eagle, which she left short. When her birdie putt lipped out, screams erupted from the putting green in the background when Ariya learned she finally won the tournament she most coveted after coming so close once before.

In 2013, Ariya held a comfortable lead coming into the final hole. The tricky 18th got the better of her then, allowing her only an excruciating three over par eight, which tore the trophy from her grasp.

Intermittently fighting back tears and beaming a bright smile when addressing the press, Ariya said it had been a long wait to get back to having a chance to win. Adding icing to the cake, she became the first Thai to win her home tournament.

Atthaya Thitikul finished in sole second.

Patty Tavatanakit, also from Thailand, was the overnight leader for all three of the first rounds. She struggled on the final day, shooting a two under par seventy, finishing equal third with South Korea’s Amy Yang and So Yeon Ryu, and American Angel Yin.

Ariya Jutanugarn became the first Thai to win the Honda LPGA Thailand.

The Honda LPGA Thailand, played under strict anti-Covid protocols, offered a 1.6 million dollar purse.

Ariya Jutanugarn was awarded $240,000 as champion.

Atthaya Thitikul earned $148,127 for second place.

Patty Tavatanakit, Amy Yang, So Yeon Ryu, and Angel Yin each won $78,057 for tied third.