[PHOTO: Dylan Buell]

A pairing eight months in the making led to a victory in the Dow Championship, the LPGA’s two-person team event, for Ruoning Yin and Atthaya Thitikul. It was during a Callaway shoot last November that Yin asked Thitikul to play alongside her in the event in Midland, Michigan. They delivered with a closing four-ball 62 for a one-stroke victory over Solheim veterans Ally Ewing and Jennifer Kupcho. Here’s how Thitikul and Yin won.

What it means

Yin and Thitikul each earn their third career title and first victories of 2024. Thitikul, 21, had not won since the 2022 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Despite going winless last season, the Thai won the 2023 Vare Trophy for the best-scoring average on tour. Thitikul only started her 2024 season in April in the Chevron Championship, as she stayed in Thailand for the first few months of the year to heal a thumb injury. Thitikul played five consecutive weeks earning her fifth top-10 in nine starts this year.

Yin, also 21, earned her third career win after a prolific sophomore 2023 campaign. She became the second-ever winner from China with a win in Palos Verdes, California, and then won her first major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. After withdrawing from the Mizuho Americas Open in May due to wrist pain, Yih said she felt it was about 60 percent at the start of the week. She will not play again until the Olympics in August, passing on the Evian Championship in two weeks to give herself time to heal.

Ewing continues one of the most prolific runs of her career. She has four straight top-five finishes, starting with her best-ever major result with a T-3 in the US Women’s Open, fourth in the Meijer LPGA Classic, a T-5 in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and a runner-up at the Dow. The American finished a spot shy at Sahalee Country Club of qualifying for the Olympics, needing to finish outright fifth or better to make the Paris Games.

Kupcho makes a strong argument for earning a captain’s pick onto the US Solheim roster with the runner-up result. Per US Solheim rules, the team event does not award points to make the team. Kupcho is 12th on the US Solheim points list, needing to be in the top seven for an automatic spot or be one of the top two Americans in the world ranking not already qualified. Kupcho, 50th in the world, is fourth among the Rolex Ranking qualifiers, trailing Alison Lee (No.22), Angel Yin (No.31) and Lexi Thompson (No.33). The 2024 US Solheim roster will be finalised after the AIG Women’s Open on August 26.

How it happened

The leaderboard at Midland Country Club was crowded all day. Eight teams were within four shots of Ewing/Kupcho’s 15-under lead. The format had pairs play foursomes during the first and third rounds and four-ball in the second and fourth. Kupcho was in position to make it back-to-back victories at the event, making her first start at the Dow since winning in 2022 with Lizette Salas. Kupcho, 27, missed defending her title due to Salas withdrawing from back pain, which sidelined the 34-year-old for the rest of 2023.

Tied through 17 holes on the final day, Thitikul rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 121-metre, par-3 18th hole to take a one-shot lead into the clubhouse.

“I knew that it’s not for me, but it’s for both of us,” Thitikul said. “So, just like, in my mind, I want to make it. I want to make it so bad. And, yeah, I just make it for us.”

They nearly smushed their faces into the clubhouse’s window overlooking the 18th to watch Kupcho and Ewing play the final hole. Kupcho went first, with the 2022 Chevron Championship winner’s mishit iron barely clearing the water in front of the green. Ewing, a three-time LPGA winner, left herself an uphill 25-footer. After Kupcho’s chip got only halfway to the cup, it all fell on the 31-year-old’s shoulders. Ewing’s putt veered offline right quickly.

“I think in these tournaments,” Ewing explained, “if you get to hole 18 you have a chance to win the golf tournament or force a playoff. That’s all you ask for.”


“Having my best friend out here, it’s a great week,” Yin said. “I said to my mum yesterday, I felt like this is the best week I’ve ever experienced because time flies when you’re having fun and you’re around good people.”

Aussie watch

Grace Kim partnered Auston Kim to a share of fifth place at 18-under, highlighted by a second-round 61. West Australian Hira Naveed and Sofia Garcia finished T-17 after a closing 62.

Best of the rest

• Nicole Broch Estrup made her first LPGA start of the season thanks to Danish compatriot Nanna Koerstz Madsen bringing her on as a teammate. The T-3 finish should give Estrup a chance at status for 2025. The 31-year-old Estrup mostly plays on the LET and has not played a full season in the States since 2021.

• I.K. Kim’s T-3 earned her first top-5 in five years. The 2017 Women’s British Open champion is playing this season with improved status from using a one-time exemption due to being inside the top-40 all-time moneylist. Like Estrup, the T-3 puts Kim in a better position to secure status for 2025.