Teenage prodigy Atthaya Thitikul will be aiming to transform the enormous pressure on her into motivation when Thailand women’s golfers defend their gold medal at the Asian Games this month.
The 15-year-old girl, who won the “Low Amateur” trophy at the British Open on Sunday, will carry the burden of the nation’s hopes as she sets out to win the women’s individual event in Indonesia.
With an already-stunning portfolio, including the LET Thailand Championship title last year – at 14, she was the youngest winner ever – and the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship in February, the teenager is one of the favourites to achieve further success but isn’t fazed.
“I will instead turn all the pressure into a thrust to perform well, especially to help defend the women’s team gold medal,” said Atthaya, who is currently in Jakarta with teammates Kan Bunnabodi and Kulthida Pramohun checking out the course ahead of the competition, which runs from August 23 to 26.
“I have practised at the course a couple of times. It has narrow fairways, thick roughs and difficult lies on the greens. But after this trip to Indonesia we should have more information about the course. There shouldn’t be any problems,” the teenager said.
In fact Atthaya admits that her confidence deserted her game recently, explaining why she finished 64th and last of the weekend players on 12-over-par.
“I was so happy to make the cut because I was not that confident with my game before the Open,” added Atthaya, who was also the Low Amateur at another of the LPGA tour’s major events, the ANA Inspiration in California in April.
“I was having a bit of a problem with my swing. But after I made the cut I felt relieved. I felt more confident.
“Winning titles as an amateur will really mean a lot to me in the future when I turn professional. But I think I still have a lot to improve before I leave the amateur level,” added Atthaya, who is planning to delay turning pro for a few years yet.
Thailand Golf Association president Rungsrid Luxitanonda has set the Thai team a target of one gold medal in the team event and one gold in the individual.
Four years ago, in Incheon, Thailand won one gold (women’s team), one silver (women’s individual) and two bronzes (men’s team and women’s individual).