Atthaya regains lead in Korea

Thai star could move to top of world golf rankings with tournament win on Sunday

published :
22 Oct 2022 at 17:04

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand tees off at the seventh hole during the third round of the BMW Ladies Championship at Oak Valley Country Club in Wonju, South Korea on Saturday. (AFP Photo)

WONJU, South Korea: Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand holds a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea.

A fourth-place finish or better on Sunday for the 19-year-old rookie, who began her third round two shots off the lead, will be enough to lift her into top spot in the women’s golf world rankings.

Atthaya fired a five-under 67 on Saturday, with six birdies and one bogey, to reach 15-under par in Wonju, the lone LPGA stop in South Korea this year.

The Ratchaburi native will be vying for her third title in 2022, playing in the final group with with Andrea Lee of the United States and former world No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who are just one stroke behind in second place.

“It’s always been hard to be in the final group, but aside from that, it means your work is paying (off), as well. So just keep doing your thing again,” Atthaya said after her round on Saturday.

“You can be in contention every week, but you can’t win every week so just do real solid, just do your best out there and enjoy the last 18 holes, then I’m heading back home.”

Taking over first place in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings is not her focus heading into Sunday, Atthaya added.

“To be honest, I don’t really care about the ranking. I don’t really care to be like No.1 in the world at all because I play golf because I want to take care of my family,” she said. “I want to feed my family. Wherever I am is fine. Even my family, they have a good life already. The ranking is not that important for me for real.”

So far this year, Atthaya has recorded 13 top-10 finishes on the LPGA tour and earned just over $2 million in prize money.

Ko Jin-young, the defending champion and current world number one, withdrew before the third round began, after having a disastrous first two rounds.

She shot 80 on Thursday and 79 on Friday, having just returned from two months out with a wrist injury.

Lilia Vu of the United States is alone in fourth place at 13-under, followed by two South Koreans, Kim Hyo-joo and Choi Hye-jin.

Both Kim and Choi shot 66 to go 12-under.

The BMW Ladies Championship has a purse of $2 million.

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