Thai 14-year-old becomes youngest winner of pro golf event

Atthaya Thitikul won the Ladies European Thailand Championship. Picture: AFP
Atthaya Thitikul won the Ladies European Thailand Championship. Picture: AFP
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Thai 14-year-old Atthaya Thitikul has become the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event after claiming a two-shot victory at the Ladies European Thailand Championship.

The teenage amateur produced a level-par 72 to finish the week on five-under-par - two strokes clear of nearest challenger Ana Menendez.

Canada’s Brooke Henderson had held the previous record as golf’s youngest champion in a pro event, winning on the Canadian Women’s Tour in June 2012 aged 14 years, nine months and three days.

Henderson bettered the mark by two days set by New Zealand’s Lydia Ko in January 2012 at the New South Wales Women’s Open.

Ko held the record on the Ladies European Tour, having won the 2013 New Zealand Open aged 15 years, nine months and 17 days.

Thitikul began her fourth round one shot behind Menendez after posting rounds of 70, 71 and 70 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively.

But with the Mexican dropping four shots on the front nine on Sunday morning, Thitikul found herself two shots clear at the turn after carding one birdie and two bogeys in her first nine holes.

Menendez closed the gap to a single stroke with a gain at the 11th but Thitikul coolly slotted in her 10-foot birdie putt at the 15th to re-establish her two-shot lead.

And the 14-year-old safely parred her remaining three holes to secure the trophy.

After her victory at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya, Thitikul told “I’m so happy and proud of myself.

“I did not look nervous, but of course I felt nerves on the first tee and on the first hole. I did not think about the score.

“I committed to every shot I hit and stayed relaxed. My caddie helped me a lot, not to think too much, to focus on my game plan and to plan the tee shots and second shots.

“My family do not play golf. When I was younger, aged six, my father told me to play sport and he offered tennis or golf and I watched golf on TV and I liked it.”

With Thitikul - who received an invitation from the tournament sponsor to play in this week’s event - being an amateur, Menendez claimed the 45,000 euros top prize.

Michele Thomson finished joint-32nd on seven-over, six shots better than Pamela Pretswell in a share of 52nd.