World No1 Ariya Jutanugarn believes there will be a fourth Thai winner on the LPGA Tour next year with as many as 11 local players again being eligible for the world’s top circuit in 2019.
The 10-time Tour champion is one of the three Thais to triumph on the LPGA tour this year: the others are older sister Moriya (at the LA Open in April) and Thidapa Suwannapura (at the Marathon Classic in Ohio in July).
With another big contingent due to be involved in the upcoming season, Ariya is brimming with confidence that one of her compatriots will finally become a first-time tour winner in 2019.
“I believe there will be a new Thai champion next year,” said Ariya on Tuesday. “All of the 11 players on the tour are capable of winning.”
One of her tips to win is Pornanong Phatlum, the “Big Sister” of the Thais on the LPGA, who turned 29 on Tuesday. Pornanong became an LPGA member in 2009, making her Thailand’s longest-standing LPGA tour player, but she is still to claim her maiden title.
She has come close to winning several times, the latest being the British Open in August, when she blew her chance by carding a double bogey on the penultimate hole.
“Pornanong is talented, hard-working and is willing to do every thing that will pave her way to a maiden title,” Ariya said.
“I think it also depends on timing. Sometimes things just don’t come our way when we’d like them to. But I know one day her time will come. I believe that she is good enough to become an LPGA champion anytime.”
Ariya says the other Thais need to remain focused on their goals if they hope to emulate the success enjoyed so far by herself, Moriya and Thidapa.
“If they set their goal and stick to it to become an LPGA champion, they will find a way. Commitment to your goals can grow ever bigger and continuously. They just have to keep working and never give up,” she added.
The in-demand Ariya is spending her off-season at home, where she is busy with various activities.
Nevertheless she will soon return to the practice range and believes with the right attitude she can have an even better year in 2019, even bettering this year, when she scooped all the major LPGA awards.
“I still have room to improve. At least I have to think more positive and have better self-talk to cheer myself up on course,” she said.