When you win a Major championship as a rookie, you’ve got a pretty good chance at being Rookie of the Year. Patty Tavatanakit won the ANA Inspiration in April and then had eight other top-10 finishes throughout the 2021 season, earning her Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honours, the LPGA announced overnight. The 22-year-old native of Bangkok is the second player from Thailand to win the award, Moriya Jutanugarn first accomplishing it in 2013.
Tavatanakit wrapped up the award despite the fact there are still two events left in the 2021 LPGA season – the Pelican Women’s Championship and the CME Group Tour Championship. Her lead in points race is too great for anyone to be able to catch her. Tavatanakit clinched the award when her nearest chaser, Leona Maguire, was unable to finish sixth or better at last week’s BMW Ladies Invitational. Tavatanakit has 1,134 points through 17 events, holding a 355-point lead over Maguire.
In just a few years, Tavatanakit has gone from being an All-American at UCLA to the 12th-ranked player in the world. She left college after two years to turn pro in 2019. That year she won three times on the Symetra Tour, earning her LPGA Tour card for 2020. The 2020 tour season was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so no Rookie of the Year was awarded. Unless a player won on tour in 2020, their status remained the same from 2020 to the 2021 season. So rookies in 2020 are still rookies in 2021.
This is Tavatanakit’s second award in the 2021 season. After the AIG Women’s Open, Tavatanakit clinched the Rolex Annika Major Award given to the player who performs the best in the season’s five Majors. Players receive points for each top-10 finish in a Major. To be eligible for the award, a player has to have won at least one Major. Tavatanakit won with 80 points, two points better than Nelly Korda.
“Earning this award is a dream come true for me,” Tavatanakit said of winning Rookie of the Year honours. “It’s once in a lifetime. I’m so thrilled that I get to add my name to a spectacular list of recipients that I have looked up to for many years. This season has been one to remember, and I’m excited to finish 2021 strong as the tour’s newest Rookie of the Year.”
Tavatanakit is fourth on the Race to the CME points list and seventh in official money ($US1,322,827). She’s also third in the Rolex Player of the Year standings with 121 points, trailing only Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda.
PHOTO: David Cannon