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Inspired by Tiger, Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit joins Woods as major champion

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Patty Tavatanakit can bear in mind the precise day she devoted her life to taking part in golf. It was Jan. 3, 2008.

It was then that an 8-year previous Tavatanakit, from her residence in Thailand, watched tv footage of Tiger Woods profitable a golf event. As Woods fist-pumped in celebration, it was at that second that Tavatanakit determined that she “wanted to be like him one day.”

On Sunday, Tavatanakit fulfilled that dream.

Exactly 4,840 days after a younger woman from Bangkok dreamed of profitable on the major stage, she earned her maiden win on the LPGA with a victory Sunday on the ANA Inspiration. The win comes simply two years after she completed low newbie and posted on social media that she hoped to some day make the leap into Poppie’s Pond.

“It’s a dream come true,” Tavatanakit advised Golf Channel after her spherical. “Every time I play here, I remember exactly I was on this green receiving my low amateur award and I saw they were jumping and I took a Snapchat and the caption was, ‘One day.’ It’s been crazy.”

Tavatanakit joins Ariya Jutanugarn as the one two gamers from Thailand, male or feminine, to win one in every of golf’s major championships. On Sunday, she flirted with the 72-hole scoring document on the ANA earlier than ending at 18 beneath with a complete of 270, one stroke shy of Dottie Pepper’s document that was set in 1999.

“I was trying to go up to 20, but the putts weren’t dropping,” Tavatanakit mentioned. “I wasn’t going to force it. Looking back I would say it was really tough.”

Tavatanakit ‘stuck to game plan’ to win ANA Inspiration

Tavatanakit adopted Woods’ footsteps, profitable in record-setting style and in a manner that hasn’t been completed in many years on the LPGA. While each had been 21 years previous after they each gained their first major, Tavatanakit did Woods one higher, getting her first major victory in her rookie season on Tour. Woods gained his first major in his second season on Tour on the 1997 Masters Tournament.

Tavatanakit is the primary rookie in additional than 30 years to win at Mission Hills Country Club. She’s additionally simply the fourth participant to go wire-to-wire on the ANA Inspiration. Again, one thing not even Woods may do in his first major victory.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet the fact that I just turned 21 six months ago and now I’m a major champion in my rookie year,” Tavatanakit mentioned. “Just crazy.”

In 1997, Woods was one of many longest hitters on Tour, second solely to John Daly. His size, mixed along with his all-around sport and premium on health, signaled a brand new age in males’s professional golf. Tavatanakit’s victory is having the identical impression.

While many have had the size, few have had the entire sport to dominate in a manner that Tavatanakit did at Mission Hills. Tavatanakit ranks second on Tour in driving distance at 283 yards. At the ANA Inspiration, she averaged 323 yards off the tee, which gave her a bonus over her rivals as she was capable of place her golf ball in locations that Golf Channel’s Judy Rankin, the 1976 ANA Inspiration champion, may solely marvel.

But Tavatanakit, an AJGA participant of the 12 months and first-team All-American at UCLA, is correct, too. During the week, she hit 84 p.c of greens and 66 p.c of fairways.

“The only caveat is, can she use that power from the fairway?” Rankin requested in the course of the telecast. “If she can do that, pretty hard to beat somebody like that.”

ANA Inspiration: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Tavatanakit is simply the primary of the up-and-coming long-hitters to win on the LPGA. Bianca Pagdanganan, a fellow rookie, leads the Tour in driving distance for the second 12 months in a row. Both rookies had been additionally first timers in 2020 however had their standing carry over to 2021 as a result of pandemic. In 2020, Pagdanganan carded back-to-back 65s on the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club, a course Inbee Park mentioned was one of many longest she’s ever performed. Pagdangnan completed T-9. Tavatanakit could be the first, however extra are arising behind her.

An 8-year-old Tavatanakit knew she needed to be a golfer and dreamed of the day she would grow to be a major champion. There are sure dates that outline a life: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Jan. 3, 2008 could also be a day merely celebrated in Tavatanakit’s coronary heart as the day she dedicated herself to the sport, however her win on April 4 on the ANA Inspiration can be endlessly celebrated alongside the fiftieth taking part in of the ANA Inspiration.

And it’s a day that Tavatanakit will always remember.

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