As a 21-year-old rookie, few had predicted Tavatanakit can be in rivalry on the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, earlier this month.
Despite a surging Lydia Ko behind her, Tavatanakit held her nerve to win by two photographs and turn into the primary rookie champion since Juli Inkster in 1984.
With well-wishers reaching out to her within the aftermath of her victory, Tavatanakit admits it’s “been really weird” coming to phrases with the truth that she’s truly received a major.
“Obviously, [to] get a major champion behind my name, it still sounds a little odd to me to think like: ‘Oh, I’m actually a major champion,'” Tavatanakit — who was ranked No. 103 on the planet beforehand — mentioned.
“I’ve dreamt for that moment for the longest time, but to actually have that under my belt is just still kind of a weird feeling. It’s just my rookie year, I didn’t expect this to come any time at all.”
Hard work paying off
Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Tavatanakit began taking part in golf as a teenager.
“As a Thai player, I grew up watching Ariya [Jutanugarn] and Moriya [Jutanugarn] play,” she defined. “They have always been inspired and an inspiration to all the young players in Thailand, so I just feel so honored to be recognized as one of the people who would make the game of golf in Thailand grow.”
After shifting to California to play on the golf crew of the UCLA Bruins, she additionally loved a prodigious novice profession, together with being the lone novice on the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.
She turned skilled in 2019, successful 3 times in eight tournaments on the Symetra Tour — the developmental tour of the LPGA — in addition to incomes the Gaëlle Truet Rookie of the Year award.
Her time on the LPGA Tour in 2020 proved harder — she cracked the highest 10 simply as soon as in 14 competitions.
However, the addition of coach Grant Waite to her crew helped change Tavatanakit’s fortunes.
“At the end of the year, we understood the plan we were going to do, and she had a choice of going back to Thailand, spend time with her parents or stay here in the US and work on our game and get ready for the Tour,” Waite informed CNN Sport.
“And she decided to do that. Now, that’s a lot for a young woman of 20, 21 years old to do that. But she chose to do that because she felt like she owed that to her career and she could do it. And we worked pretty hard on that off season.”
The onerous work paid off, with Tavatanakit ending fifth within the opening LPGA Tour occasion of the 2021 season after which claiming her first LPGA Tour win and maiden major victory on the ANA.
Although she led all through the ultimate day, her victory wasn’t easy. A course-record equaling 62 from New Zealand’s Ko definitely examined Tavatanakit.
Describing herself as a “goofball” on the course, Tavatanakit’s main emotion was one in every of aid after holing the ultimate putt on the ANA Inspiration and finishing the well-known soar into Poppie’s Pond that each one victors make.
“It was just like a relief feeling where: ‘Oh my God, I held this thing for so long and a lot of self-control, a lot of self-awareness,’ which is a whole mental grind out there.
“And when all of it simply occurred and it was simply a huge aid, like somebody simply pulled out a 100-pound dumbbell off my chest; it’s that feeling is so gentle.”
Moving from Thailand to the US cannot have been straightforward, however for Tavatanakit, it proved an emotional launch.
“Ever since I moved right here to America, I actually really feel I’ve freedom to be myself. I really feel the free spirits working inside my system a lot greater than once I was in Thailand,” she explains. “And in that being mentioned, it type of meant simply being who I’m and never afraid to categorical my emotions, my opinions, my feelings and simply be type.
“You don’t have to necessarily say certain things to try to fit into society or you don’t have to be certain ways to get acceptance from people.”
The world No. 13 is the third longest driver on the LPGA Tour, with a median driving distance of 283.786 yards, prompting comparisons between Tavatanakit and the large hitting Bryson DeChambeau, who is arguably revolutionizing males’s golf.
She isn’t making any comparisons herself however admits it’s flattering to hear that individuals think she will change the panorama of girls’s golf.
“I remember probably two, three years ago, just a sudden thought, I was like: ‘Oh, I want to make an impact to the game of golf, to women’s golf. And I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I really just want to make an impact.’
“And I actually think in a lot of the way, not definitely how far I hit the ball. I present to a lot of ladies that anybody might do it on the market. You do not have to be world No. 1 to win. You simply be your self and preserve working onerous, preserve dreaming and simply be impressed by all of your goals.”
Tavatanakit now has her sights on successful a golf grand slam — successful all 5 majors on the similar time.
Talk about an inspiring dream.
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