PRIMA THAMMARAKS EARNS FIRST SYMETRA TOUR VICTORY IN SEASON FINALE
In her final event of the season, Prima Thammaraks (Bangkok, Thailand) walked away with her first trophy at the Symetra Tour Championship, her first since becoming a Symetra rookie in 2015. Entering the final 18 holes in second and one stroke behind 54-hole leader Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Fla.), Thammaraks posted a 7-under 65 to finish at -22, smashing the 72-hole record for the event by three strokes last set by Riuxin Lin (Guangdong, China) in 2018. Upon her win, the 29-year-old was overwhelmed.
“I saw everyone and I just couldn’t hold it,” said Thammaraks. “It was just very emotional.”
Thammaraks recorded one bogey and six birdies as she headed to the 18th tee. Two-time Symetra Tour winner Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wis.) had just finished in the group ahead at -20, and unbeknownst to Thammaraks, the two were tied for the lead. The Thai native needed a birdie or better to avoid a playoff. Though she didn’t know where she stood on the leaderboard, Thammaraks changed up her strategy on the final hole after missing the fairway the past two days and teed off with nothing to lose.
“I decided to hit a 3-wood. I hit a really good shot and I just can’t believe, I mean walking down from the tee I couldn’t believe I hit the fairway, so I was just really hyped up. When I got the distance [for my second shot], it was perfect for my small five wood, so it’s either that or I hit 100 yards down. So I talked to my caddie, who was like, ‘Go for it. You feel good,’ said Thammaraks. “It’s one of my favorite shots to hit and it’s one of my favorite clubs, so I think it was meant to be.”
Upon the final eagle, Thammaraks was greeted by cast of friends, including PGA Tour player Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who drove to LPGA International from Orlando on his off week to support. LPGA Tour players and friends Wichanee Meechai and Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn Facetimed to show their love from afar, in a special moment for Thammaraks.
Though she didn’t earn a spot in the top 10, the win put Thammaraks No. 13 in the Race for the Card final standings, enough to seal a spot for LPGA Q-Series later this year. More importantly, it means she has the time to go home to Thailand and visit family for the first time since March.
“I was trying really hard to finish in the top five and more than anything was trying to play some good golf,” said Thammaraks. “But I didn’t realize I won until I looked at the leaderboard, and it’s more than a win. It’s a first win, with everybody here, and it means I can actually go home [to Thailand] after this week if I want. I can see my family and that means the whole world to me.”
VU ENDS 2021 WITH PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONORS AFTER SOLID SYMETRA TOUR SEASON
“Don’t ever stop believing in your dreams. Just be adamant about your goals and you can achieve them.”
It may be advice for anyone out there looking to shine like Lilia Vu (Fountain Valley, Calif.) did on the Symetra Tour in 2021, but it’s these word Vu continues to live by. And it’s this outlook that earned Vu not only the No. 1 spot in the Race for the Card and 2022 LPGA Tour Membership, but also Player of the Year honors. Vu sealed the deal with a tie for eighth finish at the Symetra Tour Championship, her 10th top-10 finish of the season that included three wins.
“I’ve had a really good year and I’ve had a lot of fun with these girls,” said Vu. “The girls out here are great so it’s been fun, and I’m really proud of myself this season.”
Vu, who was an LPGA Tour rookie in 2018, is already looking ahead to 2022. But she said she’ll take a break from golf for a bit, with a chance to celebrate her birthday next week. Vu said her experience this season has been nothing short of essential in the journey of her career and hopes to apply all the lessons she’s learned onto the LPGA Tour next year.
“I feel like my rookie year on the LPGA Tour was a learning lesson for me. I came straight from college and straight to the LPGA. A super different environment,” said Vu. “I feel like Symetra was a really good stepping stone for me to learn a lot of things about myself and as a golfer. I’m really excited to be out there again.”
AMANDA DOHERTY REFLECTS ON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR HONORS
Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Ga.) said she felt a couple weeks ago that she had earned Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year honors, but didn’t know for sure. And thanks to a tie for third finish at the Symetra Tour Championship, the 24-year-old secured the award as well as an LPGA Tour card for 2022.
“I was a little bit stressed coming into this week because I knew I had to play good to get my [LPGA Tour] card. I just went out there trying to beat the golf course every day and I did a pretty good job at that,” said Doherty, who recorded a final-round 68 after six birdies and two bogeys to finish at -18.
Doherty hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year, Patty Tavatanakit (2019), who went on to secure her card for 2020/21 and then become a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2021 ANA Inspiration. Even though Doherty has similar goals in mind, she said she’s grateful to be in the same company of LPGA Tour winners who also earned the award, like Tavatanakit, Hannah Green (2017), Madelene Sagstrom (2016), Annie Park (2015), Mi Hyang Lee (2012) and Lorena Ochoa (2002), to name a few.
“What I’m most proud of over this last season I think is just sticking it out, being patient. Just really trying to play my game and not focus on the endgame, which is really the whole point, so it’s hard not to do,” said Doherty. “We talk about patience in golf a lot, more for one round, because you don’t really know what’s going to happen, and it’s the same for the whole season.”
Even better, Doherty’s family attended this week, and they watched their daughter secure her eighth top-10 finish of the year as she continues chasing her dreams. “It’s always awesome to have your family here, especially this week,” said Doherty. “My sister flew in on Wednesday night to surprise me and I had no idea she was coming, and it means the world to me to have them be here for all of this.”
FINAL RACE FOR THE CARD TOP 10
Following the last tournament of the 2021 Symetra Tour Season, the Race for the Card is official and 10 players have earned an LPGA Tour card for the 2022 season
- The victory and $37,500 winner’s check moved Thammaraks up 33 spots to No. 13 with $65,443 earned in 19 total starts this year. Below is a look at the 10 players that secured LPGA Tour Membership for next year with their finish in the top 10.
- Lilia Vu (Fountain Valley, California) - $162,292
- Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) - $119,180
- Casey Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin) - $114,534
- Sophia Schubert (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) - $101,163
- Ruixin Liu (Guangdong, People’ Republic of China) - $95,281
- Maude-Aimee Leblanc (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada) - $94,188Amanda Doherty (Atlanta, Georgia) - $90,921
- Allison Emrey (Charlotte, North Carolina) - $82,644
- Morgane Metraux (Lausanne, Switzerland) - $75,771
- Rachel Rohanna (Marianna, Pennsylvania) - $75,608
- Her 22-under 266 sets the 72-hole scoring record for the Symetra Tour Championship; the previous best was -19, recorded by Ruixin Liu in 2018
- Three-time First Team Academic All-Big 12 selection for Iowa State University
- Earned All-Big 12 Team honors as freshman in 2011 highlighted by two runner-up finishes
- Named the 2014 Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the sport of women’s golf as a senior
- Finished T26 at the Final Stage of the 2015 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to earn LPGA Tour membership for the 2016 season
- Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) member where she captured her first professional victory at the 2017 RACV Gold Coast Challenge
- Entering the Symetra Tour Championship, played a total of 66 starts on the Symetra Tour since 2015 with a career-best T3 result on two occasions (2016 Gosling’s Dark ’n Stormy Classic, 2018 Symetra Classic)
- Total of 23 starts on the LPGA Tour, with six cuts made since 2016