Natthakritta Vongtaveelap Takes Lead at Honda LPGA Thailand, Lydia Ko Tied for 17th
Natthakritta Vongtaveelap continued to show why she earned a sponsorship invite to the Honda LPGA Thailand with an impressive 8-under-par 64 in the third round on Saturday. Vongtaveelap, a 20-year-old rookie from Ratchaburi, Thailand, started her day with an eagle at the par-5 first hole and ended it with three straight birdies to move to 20 under, four shots clear of fellow Thailand native Atthaya Thitikul. Thitikul shot a 64, complete with nine birdies and a single bogey, thus jumping into solo second place.
On Saturday, France's Celine Boutier was in third place at 15 under par, all by herself. Tied for fourth place are Lilia Vu (66), Maja Stark (69) of Sweden, and Anna Nordqvist (67). Lydia Ko of New Zealand, the world's No. 1 golfer, and Nelly Korda, who is ranked second, both shot 68 and are tied for 17th, three shots back from the leader.
Vongtaveelap achieved a round without a single bogey, giving her the 54-hole lead for the first time in her career thus far. With a victory Sunday, she would become the first sponsor invite to win an LPGA Tour event since Lydia Ko at the 2013 CP Women's Open. Ariya Jutanugarn (2021) became the first Thai player to win the Honda LPGA Thailand, and if successful, she would be the second.
“I feel excited to play in front of Thai fans. Yeah, this is my first time, you know. It's my largest crowd in my life,” said Vongtaveelap, who hit 12 of 14 fairways. My aim is to make more birdies, which means playing under pressure. I'm striving to improve my score.
Ko started strongly, birdying three of the first four holes, and she continued playing steadily until the 14th hole, which she bogeyed. At the 17th hole, a par-4, she had another hiccup resulting in a double bogey; however, she finished with a birdie at the last hole, giving her a
0. “Rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap expands lead in Thailand | Sports | hastingstribune.com” Hastings Tribune, 25 Feb. 2023, https://www.hastingstribune.com/sports/rookie-natthakritta-vongtaveelap-expands-lead-in-thailand/article_5fd5ec08-d43f-5363-8299-2d115f54abf7.html
1. “Rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap expands lead in Thailand” Sportsnaut, 25 Feb. 2023, https://sportsnaut.com/rookie-natthakritta-vongtaveelap-expands-lead-in-thailand/
2. “Five tied with opening 65s at LPGA Thailand” Yardbarker, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.yardbarker.com/golf/articles/five_tied_with_opening_65s_at_lpga_thailand/s1_17063_38502018
3. “Another Thai rookie shines at Honda LPGA” Bangkok Post, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.bangkokpost.com/sports/2514325/another-thai-rookie-shines-at-honda-lpga
4. “Rookie Vongtaveelap leads Honda LPGA Thailand after 7-under 65” LPGA, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.lpga.com/news/2023/rookie-vongtaveelap-leads-honda-lpga-thailand-after-7-under-65
5. “Lydia Ko fires in seven birdies in second round at LPGA Thailand” Stuff, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/women-in-sport/300816161/lydia-ko-fires-in-seven-birdies-in-second-round-at-lpga-thailand