News & Opinion

Patty Tavatanakit turns patience into near-perfection at ANA

Patty Tavatanakit shoots 66 to lead first round of 2021 ANA Inspiration
Patty Tavatanakit celebrates a closing birdie Thursday to complete a 6-under 66 for a 1-stroke lead at the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

2nd-year Thai player shoots 6-under 66 for 1st-round lead at ANA Inspiration, the 1st major championship of the LPGA season

In her fourth start at the ANA Inspiration, Patty Tavatanakit has come to understand what it takes to succeed on the LPGA: patience.

And holing a few putts helps, too.

“It was a pretty calm and relaxing day today,” Tavatanakit said Thursday after shooting 6-under 66 at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to lead the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major championship of the year. “I just stuck to my game plan and didn’t get too greedy out there, because I know it’s a major. It’s tough; the course is really tough. I was just being really patient, and was waiting for putts to drop, and it did on the back nine.”

Sparked by birdies on four of her final six holes at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Tavatanakit posted a bogey-free round. Ireland’s Leona Maguire and China’s Shanshan Feng shared second place at 67. Two more Thais, sisters Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn, were tied for fourth with American Megan Khang and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist at 68 (scores).

Michelle Wie West, who missed the cut last week in her first start since giving birth to her first child last year, shot 2-under 70.

Tavatanakit, a 21-year-old Thai who is in her second year on the LPGA after two seasons of college golf at UCLA, is part of the next wave of young Asian talent. She hit all four of the par 5s at Mission Hills in two strokes, including three of them with mid-irons. At the 474-yard 18th, she lofted a 6-iron from 178 yards onto the island green. She two-putted for birdie and a one-stroke lead.

“It’s pretty much a long par 4,” she said of the only par 5 that played shorter than 512 yards. “It’s always nice to have a higher ball flight into that green.”

Tavatanakit was making her fourth start at the ANA. She made two cuts in three previous appearances at Mission Hills, with a best finish of T-26 in 2019.

Since having made her LPGA debut as a 15-year-old amateur at the LPGA Thailand in her homeland, Tavatanakit has come to understand what it takes to compete on the top women’s tour in the world.

“It takes a lot out here to just play well week after week, day after day,” said Tavatanakit , who is looking for her first victory. “It’s a really tough job, tough sport. Not every day is going to go your way. Even though it was 6 under, it was not perfect golf. But I would take that any day. Golf is not a perfect sport.”

For Patty Tavatanakit on Thursday at Mission Hills, it was something fairly close.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.