It was Thailand’s newcomer Natakrita Wongtawirap (21) who took the attention of golf fans at the first tournament of the 2023 LPGA tour of the Korean Legion, in which 12 Korean players participated. The championship was won by Lilia Bu (USA), but the golf world was agitated by the appearance of Wongtawi Lap, the ‘long hit monster’. With a ball speed of 160 miles per hour, which is equivalent to that of most male players, his driver shot went over 300 yards. The distance the ball flew before it hit the ground (carry) alone was 270 yards.
On the 26th, at the LPGA Tour Honda Thailand, which ended at the Siam CC Pattaya Old Course (par 72) in Chonburi, Thailand, Wongtawirap finished runner-up with a total of 21 under par and 267 strokes over four days. He took the lead by 4 strokes, but only reduced 1 stroke, so he gave a come-from-behind victory to Boo (22 under par, 266 strokes), who had 8 birdies. Boo was her first win since her 2019 Tour debut. The winning prize is 255,000 dollars (approximately 330 million won). Although the first ever record of winning the first tournament as an LPGA member was misfired, Wongta Wirap heralded a blast this season by announcing the appearance of a super-large rookie.
Her Wongta Wilap passed her LPGA entrance exam, the Q Series, in a tie for 28th. She already has two wins on the Thailand tour, including winning her first tournament after turning pro in November of last year, and is currently running both her home country tour and the LPGA tour. The world ranking is 470th. Although he was not qualified to participate in this tournament, he came out at the invitation of a sponsor and received an impressive 290-yard average driver shot in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Wongtawi Lap is a player sponsored by a Korean company and raised by a Korean coach. He played wearing a KB Financial Group hat. An official from KB Finance explained, “We decided to sponsor local players in line with the group’s strengthening of the Southeast Asian global business, and after reviewing dozens of people, we signed a three-year contract with Wongtawi Lap, who finished runner-up in the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship early last year.” They use PXG clubs, and their clothing (Amazing Cree) and club shaft (Monster) are also Korean brands.
The coach helping Wongtawi Lap is Kim Jin-seop, a pro. He has been teaching in Thailand for over 7 years. He is 176 cm tall and has long arms, so he is nicknamed ‘Shim’ and is nicknamed ‘Sim 300’ because he can easily hit 300 yards. He has an optimistic personality that makes him laugh once and forget even when he sees it, and is known to particularly like Korean food, such as bulgogi, samgyeopsal, and tteokbokki. 메이저사이트
Last year, he participated in the Korean Women’s Professional Golf (KLPGA) Tour Korea Women’s Open and the KB Financial Star Championship as an invited and recommended player, respectively, and tied for 29th and was eliminated from the cut. Compared to that time, his short game appears to have improved significantly. On this day, the tee shot landing rate on the fairway was only 57% and the green hit rate was only 61%, but the bleeding was minimized with a fairly sophisticated short game and putt feeling. He did not break down, catching 7 birdies despite a dizzying round of 4 bogeys and 1 double bogey.
The wind that women’s golf in Thailand has created in recent years is comparable to that of a typhoon. Starting with Eriya Jutanugarn, the 2016/2018 Player of the Year, Patty Tawatanagit, the winner of the Major ANA Inspiration in 2021, and Rookie King Ataya Titikul, who won two victories last year, Wongtawirap seems to have taken over the baton. The Korean players, who only won four joint ventures last year, have met a new competitor.
Among Korean players, Ko Jin-young hit the best with a 16-under par for 6th place. He cut 8 strokes with 1 eagle and 6 birdies, hitting a ‘daily best’ like Boo. It is especially nice to see the return of computerized iron shots with an 83% green hit rate for four days. Ko Jin-young suffered from a wrist injury in August of last year and fell from the world’s No. 1 spot. He is currently ranked 5th in the world. Ko Jin-young, who made it to the top 10 in 7 months, said, “It seems like it’s been more than 5 months since I hit under par all four days, and I feel like I’m going to cry.” said.
Lydia Ko (New Zealand) and Nellie Corda (USA), who ranked first and second in the world, also finished tied for 6th. Kim Hyo-joo is tied for 10th at 15 under par, and Kim Se-young is tied for 20th at 12 under par. After Jeon In-ji’s victory in June of last year, he failed to win 18 consecutive tournaments, leaving Korea a disgraceful record of the most consecutive tournaments in 15 years. The previous record was 17 consecutive matches that lasted from October 2013 to June of the following year.