It was an impressive performance from the Thailand Team on Sunday afternoon at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown as they charged to a dominant victory over Australian, sweeping all three finals matches to emerge victorious for the first time in the history of the competition. Winning just 10 total matches in their first three appearances at the International Crown, Thailand went 11-for-12 in the 2023 edition of the event, led by MVP award winner Ariya Jutanugarn, who chipped in on the final hole to solidify the victory for her country.
“Actually on that hole, we just talk about do we have to keep playing. We don't know what's going on. We know they already won, so I don't know if I have to keep playing or not because I felt like I pushed to the right; Mo hit bunker in the rough. I feel like if I keep doing this we might have to play to 18, so I'm like, okay, what we have to do. So that shot, I just really want to make it because I want to finish,” said Jutanugarn of the chip-in. “I'm always believing in my team, and I still feel that way. To me, it can't be only me doing hard work, doing a good job. It has to be all of us. I think this week, we put ourselves in a really good position all the time. I think the vibe between us, can't ask for better.”
A pair of 2022 LPGA Tour rookies went head-to-head in the first singles match of the finals with two-time LPGA Tour winner Atthaya Thitikul facing off against Stephanie Kyriacou, ultimately winning 4 and 2. Thitikul jumped ahead immediately, going 1 up after opening with a birdie on the par-5, 1st hole, but a Kyriacou birdie on No. 4 evened the score. The Aussie then pulled one ahead, moving to 1 up after grabbing another birdie on hole 6, and Kyriacou held that lead until Thitikul nearly holed out her approach on No. 8, tying the match after the birdie tap-in was conceded. They tied the next three holes and Thitikul finally flipped the match with a birdie on 12, taking a 1 up advantage to the 13th tee. A par on No. 14 was enough to move Thitikul 2 up and she won the next hole to go 3 up with three to play. It was ultimately a birdie on the par-4, 16th that gave Thitikul the 4-and-2 victory and Thailand a much-needed point.
“I not really expect that we're going to going for win that much coming into the week,” said Thitikul of her first Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown experience. “But I think when I come into this event, when we had a practice round with my team, I feel like I had more confidence, we had more good vibes, and I think we just had fun. We really had fun out there, especially in the practice round or tournament round. Like we had so fun. I think it's good memories for us forever.”
Patty Tavatanakit continued her tear of excellent play at TPC Harding Park, defeating Australia’s Hannah Green in a resounding 4 and 3 fashion, just hours after dropping the only match of Thailand’s run to fellow UCLA alumna Lilia Vu during the Sunday morning semifinals. Tavatanakit, who won an NCAA regional at TPC Harding Park as a freshman, took the lead early, winning the 2nd hole with a par to go 1 up. She grabbed a birdie at the next to go 2 up on Green and won her third consecutive hole on No. 4 to move to 3 up. Green battled back to 1 down with wins on holes 5 and 6, but Tavatanakit held off that charge, winning No. 7 to get back to 2 up. After tying the next three holes, a Tavatanakit birdie on 11 extended the lead to 3 up and she won the 14th hole to get to 4 up with five to play. Two tied holes later and Tavatanakit claimed the 4-and-3 victory on No. 15, her fourth win of the week.
“I'm just really happy that we pulled it off, all of us. And to be able to kind of get a head start to go up on Hannah early I think kind of gives them a little bit of a sense of security that we already kind of is ahead in one match, we just need one more,” said Tavatanakit. “Us winning this event is huge for golf in Thailand. It is already growing, and I think this is going to inspire a lot of people, even more than what we feel inspired 10 years ago. I'm really excited to see the future of Thai golf.”
The sister act of Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn just couldn’t be stopped throughout the week at TPC Harding Park and the dynamic duo again proved to be a deadly combo on Sunday afternoon, pummeling Sarah Kemp and Minjee Lee in a resounding 4-and-3 victory. The Australian Team started off strong, winning the first two holes to go 2 up through two, but Thailand took holes 3 and 5 to tie the match with 13 holes to play. The Jutanugarns caught fire on No. 7, making birdie to take their first lead of the match, and continued that streak, winning the next three holes to hold a 4-up lead. The teams tied the next four holes and it was ultimately a walk-off chip-in from Ariya that sealed the deal, giving Thailand one last 4-and-3 victory and its first Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown title.
“Of course, it's so much fun this week. Very, very enjoyed it,” said Moriya Jutanugarn. “We take a lot of good things and confidence and learned a lot. Everything more than I could ask for, and I'm very, very proud of all of the girls.”