It took six and a half years and 120 starts but Thidapa Suwannapura is finally an LPGA Tour winner. The 25-year-old became the third player from Thailand to win on tour following a playoff victory over Brittany Lincicome in the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Bangkok native closed with a 65 to set the clubhouse target of 14-under-par, going eagle-birdie on the last two holes at Highland Meadows in Sylvania, Ohio. Lincicome matched that total with a closing 67 but sent her second shot into water on the first extra hole. The American did well to save par but Suwannapura made birdie from five feet to join the Jutanugarn sisters as LPGA winners.
“When you start playing on tour, the first couple years you’re fresh … you’re like a rookie, and you just go out there and play golf. But when you continue playing more and more every year, the belief in yourself is really important to keep you up there. It just means a lot for me to believe in myself more and more. Especially after this week, I feel like I am good enough to be out here,” said Suwannapura, whose previous best finish on tour was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
Suwannapura suffered a serious back injury in 2015 which required spinal surgery. Despite assurances from her surgeon, she admitted being unsure whether she would play golf again.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to play golf again because it’s a big surgery and it’s really dangerous. And I was thinking, oh, what should I do if I don’t play golf? But, after that I came back, practiced, and tried to play golf again. I had a medical year and just kept working hard … and now I’m grateful to be out here,” she said.
The win earned Suwannapura a start in the Ricoh Women’s British Open, which tees off at Royal Lytham & St Annes in two weeks’ time. She is the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner of 2018, joining Jin Young Ko, Pernilla Lindberg, Moriya Jutanugarn, Annie Park and Nasa Hataoka.