Patty Tavatanakit (UCLA photo)
No. 2 amateur and UCLA sophomore Patty Tavatanakit turned down an invite to compete in the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur, electing instead to play in the first LPGA major of the season.
After a final-round 68 on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills Country Club, Tavatanakit came away with low amateur honors and a solid T26 finish, validating her decision to tee it up with the world's best.
"Weighing it out and talking to my parents and coaches, ANA is a better option for me to play," said Tavatanakit earlier in the week. "It sucks that I don't get to go to Augusta, but at the same time, I am focusing on my goals for this year and the path that I'm taking. My dream is to be a professional golfer, and playing in my fifth major will help me get there."
With each round, the Thai native seemed to get more comfortable, improving her score every day with -rounds of 75-73-72-68. But this is not the first time she has earned low amateur honors in a professional major -- last year she had an amazing fifth-place finish at the U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.
Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland also played well at Shoal Creek, finishing 24th as the second-low amateur. And like Tavatanakit, she too declined an ANWA invite to play with the pros this week. And it paid off for her as well, as she was the only other amateur to make the cut, shooting 294 to finish T66.
When asked about the choice between playing in the inaugural ANWA and the ANA Inspiration, Valenzuela could see no downside in either choice.
"I think it's all so positive. That's the key word for me," Valenzuela said. "It's so great that amateurs like me even get these types of choices. If you put things in perspective, if you ask a 21-year-old if she wants to play the ANA where everyone jumps in the pond or you want to play at Augusta, it's like this type of choice and giving young women like me this opportunity to even choose just means the world. I am happy to be a part of a generation that is seeing real change in golf."
Three other amateurs -- Frida Kinhult of Sweden, Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tenn., and Xin Kou of China -- played in the ANA Inspiration but did not make the halfway cut.
ABOUT THE ANA Inspiration
First women's professional major of the year,
ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco)
Championship draws more than
of the best women professional golfers in the
world, as well as the top-ranked amateurs in the
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