LPGA rookie Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand sank a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to defeat Danielle Kang and win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday in Rogers, Ark.
Thitikul and Kang were tied at 17-under 196 at the end of the 54-hole event. They began the playoff by parring the par-3 15th hole at Pinnacle Country Club before heading to the par-4 16th.
There, the 19-year-old Thitikul rolled in a right-to-left putt for birdie to beat Kang and capture her second career LPGA title. Thitikul also won the JTBC Classic in March.
“I just feel like playing golf with Danielle is kind of tough as well because she is pretty great player, win a lot on LPGA Tour already,” Thitikul said. “But for me out there, on second hole I’m just trying to do my best every single shot.”
Thitikul, who shot a 10-under 61 in Saturday’s second round to take the lead, posted a final-round 68.
Kang shot a bogey-free 64, the low round of the day, with a chip-in eagle at the par-5 18th to get to 17 under for the event. Thitikul made birdie at the par-3 17th to tie her at the top and parred No. 18 to set up the playoff.
Kang, 29, took time off during the season after doctors discovered a tumor on her spine that needed to be removed. This was her third tournament back.
“It’s a struggle almost, sometimes in the morning — but I came out here to do something that I love, and I’m just so happy for my team that somehow got me back playing this year,” Kang said through tears. “I mean, there was part of me that I didn’t think I would ever play again or contend, but here I am. I’m not that far off and I’m happy about that.”
Thitikul and Kang beat South Korea’s Chella Choi (final-round 65) by one shot. Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum (66) came in fourth at 14 under.
Tied for fifth at 13 under were Lizette Salas (65), Megan Khang (68), Ryann O’Toole (68), France’s Celine Boutier (65), New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (67), Muni He of China (68) and Charley Hull of England (68).