Tiffany Chan (Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong) stole the show early with a 9-under, 63, but Chorphaka Jaengkit (Bangkok, Thailand) rose to the occasion late on Sunday with birdies on 15 and 16 to win the Decatur-Forsyth Classic at 12-under, 204. She turned in a 2-under, 70 on Sunday and made just three bogeys all weekend.
Chan finished in second place at 11-under, 205 in her Symetra Tour debut. Jessica Welch, Hannah Green and Desiree Dubreuil tied for third at 10-under, 206.
Jaegnkit, who was No. 131 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list entering the week, made a 35-foot birdie putt on 16 to take the lead and then saved par from 5-feet on 17 to maintain a one shot lead. She stuck her approach on 18 to 10-feet and made an easy par to claim the win.
“I feel great because it has been a lot for me, the past two weeks I was thinking about going to play back in Asia,” explained Jaengkit because she wasn’t having success on the Symetra Tour. “That has changed, I’m going to keep playing on this Tour now.”
Jaengkit pockets the first place check of $19,500 and moves from No. 131 on the money list to No. 16. She has now earned 20,796 in six starts.
Chan tee’d off at 8:50 in the morning - over four hours before Jaengkit - and posted a bogey-free 9-under, 63 to take the lead before Jaengkit even started at 1:00 p.m.
“I saw that I was one stroke back before I started,” said Jaengkit. “I was very patient at first because the putts weren’t dropping on the front nine. Everything changed on the back when I made the putts on 15 and 16.”
Jaengkit’s putt on 16 was a 35-foot slider.
“It was left to right and I felt good about it because I just dropped a putt on 15,” said Jaengkit. “It was right on line and had good speed and went right into the hole.”
The win came out of nowhere for Jaengkit, who missed four straight cuts to begin her season before making the cut last week.
“I’m a little bit surprised, it is very unexpected,” said Jaengkit. “I went home for a month and saw my swing coach and my short game coach and I came back and felt good about my game. I also have my caddy on my bag.”
Her caddy is her good friend and former teammate at Grand Canyon University, Julia Shin. She was supposed to be here for three weeks and was planning to head back to her home in Brazil, but after the win, Jaengkit said that she agreed to one more week.
“I made her stay for another week.”
Jaengkit has two wins on the Cactus Tour, one win in Thailand and one more in Taiwan so this is her fifth professional win worldwide.
“This helps me out a lot as I was way down on the money list,” said Jaengkit, who had earned just over $1,000 in five starts. “Last tournament was the first time I made the cut, so I think this will really help.”
Jaengkit’s story is amazing in that she quit golf for her final two years of high school and was ready to go to Grand Canyon to study in the Pharmacy school. She decided to pick the game back up as a means to obtain a scholarship.
Six years later, she’s a champion on a major professional tour.
Chan’s second place finish puts her at No. 29 on the money list after her first tournament. The final pairing was ideal as she was grouped with college teammate Victoria Morgan, who had their other teammate Gabriela Then as her caddy.
“It really felt like a college round for me with them,” said Chan, who represented Hong Kong in the Rio Olympics. “We both started off 3-under through six or seven so had this little match play going on.”
This was Chan’s second professional event as she played in the Hong Kong Open last week.
“Yesterday I could not make a putt, I hit 16 greens,” explained Chan about why she thought a good round was coming. “I was practicing with Vic (Victoria Morgan) yesterday and she told me that I was so close and it all came together today.”