Chanettee Wannasaen fired a dazzling nine-under-par 63 on Sunday to capture her first LPGA Tour title, taking a four-stroke victory at the Portland Classic in tournament-record fashion.
The Thailand teenager pulled away in the final round to complete an astonishing romp over a stellar field on 26-under 262 after 72 holes at Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon.
The 19-year-old Monday qualifier shattered the former 72-hole Classic mark of 21 under after missing the cut in her prior nine LPGA Tour starts, becoming the seventh LPGA champion from Thailand and only the third Monday qualifier to win an LPGA title.
“It’s everything to me,” Chanettee said as she began to cry. “I missed the cut nine times before this tournament.
Then she began to smile.
“I worked very hard to make it happen,” she said. “And it has really happened now.”
The world No 367 hadn’t cracked the top 50 in an LPGA event this year, sharing 51st in Thailand in February and 57th at Superstition Mountain in March.
But with a bogey-free closing round that included seven birdies and an eagle, she took home the $225,000 top prize after winning just over $14,700 in 2023 LPGA prize money until this week.
Being in contention and playing for the biggest title of her career made for nervous moments, Chanettee said, but she kept her cool and dominated with some help from her caddie.
“I always talk with my caddie,” she said. “My caddie helped me out a lot. Actually I’m very excited but I can control my mind. I came up calm.”
China’s Lin Xiyu fired a 64 to finish second on 22-under 266 with a third-place pack on 20-under 268 including China’s Yin Ruoning, American Gina Kim and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda with American Megan Khang sixth on 19-under 279.
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai ended on 11 under (T34) after a final-round 68.
Chanettee, who began the day one stroke behind US 54-hole leader Khang, birdied the 3rd and 4th holes, eagled the par-five 5th and birdied the 6th and 7th to leap into the lead.
Khang, who won her first LPGA crown after 190 starts last week in Canada, birdied the 3rd and par-five 7th but was still three adrift at the turn.
Chanettee made five consecutive pars before sinking a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-three 13th and dropping her approach inches from the hole at 14 for a tap-in birdie that stretched her lead to five strokes at 25 under.
Even after rivals closed the gap, she sank a six-foot birdie putt at the 17th to boost the margin back to five.
From there, it was a stroll to glory, which Chanettee capped with an eight-foot par putt on the 18th hole to become the LPGA’s 10th first-time winner this season.
Chanettee was the first Monday qualifier to win an LPGA title since Canada’s Brooke Henderson at the 2015 Portland Classic.
© Agence France-Presse