TAVATANAKIT DRIVES ON WITH ALL IN APPROACH
One of the five players from the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings invited to the inaugural LPGA Q-Series last fall, Patty Tavatanakit (Bangkok, Thailand) was also the only one from the group to not earn LPGA Tour status for 2019. Looking back, it might have been for the better.
“Going into the two weeks, I didn’t want to turn pro and remember hesitating even going there,” said Tavatanakit, who finished tied for 84th. “Every time I step onto the course, I try to beat everyone. That particular time, I was playing without purpose or passion. Seeing the results, I was happy because I could stay in school and didn’t have to decide. It was something I wanted because I needed more experience.”
Once back at UCLA, Tavatanakit struggled. The stress of classes became overbearing in what turned out to be her final semester and results on the course were not up to her standard. However, a tied for 26th result at the ANA Inspiration in April served as her turning point.
The performance rekindled the passion she was searching for and provided a definitive reason as to why she was ready to make the leap. Tavatanakit began the process by talking with UCLA women’s golf head coach Carrie Forsyth. From there, several phone calls with her parents enforced the path she needed to take if her decision was to turn pro.
“I would ask, and my dad said I need to go all in to get where I want to be,” Tavatanakit said. “When I practice and start to get my game back, I love the sport even more. The ups and downs, the grind, the feeling of climbing back up again is really great. I knew it was something I wanted to do as a career and that I would end up being a pro golfer, so why not start now. I have the capability to be out here and make a living, which drives me too.”
A two-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) First Team All-American for the Bruins, Tavatanakit made her professional debut at the U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA with a tied for 34th showing. She has played two Symetra Tour events since, including a tied for 14th finish at the Island Resort Championship and runner-up in the Prasco Charity Championship.
To keep the successful start to her professional journey going, Tavatanakit ended tied for 15th last week in the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic as a tournament sponsor exemption. The performance of 20-under par overall included a bogey-free, 11-under par 61 in the final round to set the 18-hole tournament scoring record.
“Last week changed a lot, knowing I can compete out there and especially making the cut of 5-under,” said Tavatanakit. “I feel like I’m playing good golf right now because I’m not trying to play good golf. It’s a process of enjoying the sport and committing to this. I’m happy doing what I’m doing, which helps me have no regrets. I’m glad I didn’t get my LPGA Tour card because I’m learning to be a pro out here and I think that’s the right choice. The past couple events I’ve learned a lot and am glad to not have to learn all that right away on the big tour.”
DONALD ROSS CLASSIC WELCOMES WAPT SERIES IV RACE EXEMPTIONS
It’s not every day you see an individual with full Symetra Tour status compete as an amateur, but that is exactly what Elizabeth Wang (San Marino, California) is doing in French Lick, Ind. at the third annual Donald Ross Classic.
Wang just completed her freshman year at Harvard University, where she captured individual medalist honors at the 2019 Ivy League Women’s Golf Championship in April. Furthermore, Wang competed in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament last year. She advanced through Stage I and finished tied for 42nd at Stage II.
“I really just wanted to play Q-School and see what it was like,” said Wang, an All-Ivy League First Team selection. “Here I am with my amateur status, playing, finding tournaments for the summer and trying to challenge myself.”
A tournament sponsor exemption for the 2016 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, Wang also qualified for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Shoal Creek. Those experiences provided a taste of professional golf, something she would like to chase with greater fervor. Granted a leave of absence by a passing vote from the Administrative Board of Harvard College, Wang is able to do just that and pursue her dreams.
“They were super exciting events, being able to meet people who were my idols and play alongside them,” Wang said. “I pestered some of them, but they were really nice and patient with my endless questions. Now, I’m really lucky to have the support of Harvard and its faculty. I’ll try to focus more on golf, then go back and finish my studies later. I haven’t officially declared a concentration because you declare after the first semester of sophomore year, but I am really interested in government.”