Thai teenage golfer Atthaya Thitikul reached the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings on Monday, becoming the 16th player and second youngest under 20 to get to the top since ranking began in 2006. She replaced South Korea’s Jin Young on a week in which she didn’t play.
She is the fourth player to reach No 1 without having won a major, joining Lydia Ko from New Zealand in 2015, Ai Miyazato in 2010 and Lorena Ochoa. Lydia Ko remains the youngest No 1, getting there for the first time at age 17.
Atthaya ended last year at No 19, after a two-win season on the Ladies European Tour and took advantage of strong play and injuries at the top.
Nelly Korda, who started the year at No 1, had surgery for a blood clot in her left arm and wound up missing four months. Lydia Ko, who had been No 1 since January, had to deal with an injury in her left wrist that kept her out for two months. She also withdrew in her return at the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea. That cleared the way for Atthaya to reach the top spot, having finished in the top 10 in the last five starts.
Atthaya said that to be No 1 in women’s profession golf means a lot to her, her family, her team and fans, because it is an honour to be at the spot with other golf legends. “It is a special feeling,” she said.
She admitted, however, that it is extremely hard to remain at that top spot, because she still has many things to learn from those legends and other women golfers, but she promised to work harder for her family, team and fans and for Thailand.