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Patty Tavatanakit, a 21-year-old from Thailand, shows quick learning curve to grab ANA Inspiration lead

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Patty Tavatanakit should be learning about what it takes to win on the LPGA, however the 21-year-old from Thailand looks like a quick learner.

Saying this season seems like an extension of her rookie 12 months, Tavatanakit fired a stellar 6-under 66 on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club on Thursday to take the first-round lead within the ANA Inspiration, the primary main championship on the LPGA this season.

The spherical continued what has been a sizzling begin to 2021 for Tavatanakit, who was a rookie within the truncated 2020 season. The former UCLA Bruin will enter the second spherical with a one-shot lead over Shanshan Feng, who didn’t play on the LPGA in 2020, and Leona Maguire, who completed her spherical hours after Tavatanakit and Feng accomplished their rounds.

Anna Nordqvist and Ariya Jutanugarn every fired first-round 68s on a day that noticed little wind and a few cloud cowl. Among a group at 69 are the final two winners of the ANA Inspiration, Mirim Lee and Jin Young Ko.

ANA Inspiration: Leaderboard | Photos

Also on the chief board at 70, tied with names akin to Lexi Thompson, is Michelle Wie West. Wie West final performed within the main championship in 2019 and has been married and had a child since then. Thursday was her third spherical on the LPGA this 12 months after lacking the reduce on the Kia Classic in Carlsbad final week. It has been 18 years since Wie West debuted within the occasion as a 13-year-old.

“You know, looking back, I was a kid,” stated Wie West, now 31, of her debut within the occasion. “I still feel like a kid. Having a baby definitely puts a different perspective on everything. I’m more excited to go home and see her than I was about my round, to be honest.”

Tavatanakit struggled at occasions in her rookie season, lacking cuts in seven of 14 begins with only one top-10 end. But already in 2021 she has a tie for fifth within the Gainbridge LPGA and a tie for 14th on the LPGA Drive On Championship in Florida. She comes to the ANA Inspiration, her fourth begin within the occasion, off a missed reduce on the Kia Classic in Carlsbad final week.

“It takes a lot out here to play well week after week, day after day. It’s a really tough job, tough sport,” Tavatanakit stated. “Not every day is gonna go your way.

“Today, even though it’s a 6-under, it was not a perfect golf,” she added. “It was, I mean, a lot out there, but I would take that any day. Golf is not a perfect sport.”

Closing in on a win

With one other look on the chief board in 2021, Tavatanakit stated she actually seems like she is learning every week.

“I feel like just growth into being in contention and just keep learning, keep being in it,” she stated. “Eventually like I’ll be able to finish it out. It doesn’t have to be this week. I have a long career ahead of me, and I’m just going to keep playing the way I’m playing.”

Part of Tavatanakit’s success Thursday was taking the advantage of the par-5s on the Shore Course, hitting all 4 in two pictures together with the island inexperienced on the 18th gap that arrange a closing birdie. Handling the par-5s shows the progress in Tavatanakit’s already spectacular recreation.

“It helped playing the course at a really young age (as an amateur), seeing it differently. I feel like I’m hitting it the furthest I’m hitting,” she stated. “I could never reach the green on 9 for the three times I played here, and I was able to do it today. I was telling my caddie, man, I’ve got a little bit of a different game here. I’m hitting it a little further, and if anything a little straighter.”

Feng’s bogey-free 67 was made extra outstanding as a result of the Chinese star didn’t play in 2020

“Last year was a difficult year for everybody, and I just made a decision at the middle of the year to go back to China and maybe take some time off with my friends and family at home,” Feng stated. “And I really enjoyed the whole time over there, but of course I missed playing. So I started to practice like maybe a few months ago. Tried to come back little earlier but I couldn’t because of the visa.”

Feng’s spherical included 5 birdies and no bogeys, exhibiting she hasn’t misplaced a lot from her recreation after a 12 months on the sidelines.

“I’m saying that I’m an old rookie, but it’s not like I’ve never been in tournaments before,” Feng stated. “So I know what it takes to play well in the tournament, and I really did work on like, to get my distance back because I did lose some distance.”

Maguire birdied two of her last 4 holes to crawl into the chase at 5-under, whereas different golfers had possibilities on the par-5 18th to make a transfer however made simply pars and even bogeys on the demanding gap.

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