Thailand’s Thidapa Sunawannapura, a Symetra Tour graduate and a 2012 LPGA Tour rookie, secured the fourth Thai win from seven editions of the Hero Women’s Indian Open when she maintained her overnight lead to triumph by three shots at the venerable Delhi Golf Club. This is Sunawannapura’s 1st pro victory!
The win is a big break for Suwannapura. She’s been playing regularly on the LPGA Tour during 2013 but her only top-10 finish came in February at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February, where she finished in a tie for 8th place.
Rolex Ranked No. 194, the 21-year-old from Bangkok opened with a 66 to share the lead after the first round and held her advantage throughout the tournament, moving a stroke clear with a second round 74 and then extending her lead to three with a final round 68.
With a winning total of eight-under-par, Sunawannapura ended ahead of her first round co-leader, Frenchwoman Valentine Derrey, who recorded her second runner-up finish in as many months.
Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, who’s Rolex Ranked No. 48, won this event three times before Sunawannapura – in 2008, 2009 and 2012 – while another Thai player, Saraporn Chamchoi, finished in a tie for third this year, alongside England’s Hannah Burke.
The final round was played in hot and sunny conditions perfect for golf and American Beth Allen closed with a sizzling six-under-par 66 to share fifth place with England’s 17-year-old rookie Charley Hull and the leading Indian player, amateur Gauri Monga.
Sunawannapura, who has a full card on the LPGA, began the final round one clear of Hull and Derrey, but immediately extended her lead to two strokes at five-under-par after a birdie on the first hole.
Although Derrey twice caught the leader, after six and eight holes respectively, Sunawannapura made a downhill putt for birdie from 18 feet on the tricky par-4 ninth to reach six-under and go one stroke clear at the turn.
Hull, still only one behind after seven holes, dropped shots on the 10th and 13th and her excellent birdie from close range on the short 17th was too little, too late.
I played alright. I had a few loose shots but I felt like the last round I would have benefited from an experienced caddie.
Meanwhile, Sunawannapura birdied 13 and 14 to build a three stroke cushion at eight-under-par.
The Ladies Asian Golf Tour member, whose other passion besides golf is table tennis, added: “Today I was concentrating on my game all day and was not looking at anyone else. I didn’t see them at all. All my mind was concentrating on golf. I played my game and tried to make it good, play my best. I knew that I was leading but I didn’t know by how much.”
Reflecting on the tight and treacherous golf course, Beth Allen observed: “This golf course is really tough. The key is just to keep it in play and the difference between my first two rounds and today was just my approach shots. I kept it in play all week but I hit it very close the first two rounds and holed nothing. I had one birdie the first two rounds and today I had seven.”
The Ladies European Tour now moves to the United Arab Emirates for the final tournament of the 2013 season, the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, taking place at Emirates Golf Club from December 4-7.
Hull will be contending for the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award along with her maiden title on her first visit to the emirate and said: “I really can’t wait to get to Dubai, to be honest. I’m so excited and I’ve been counting down the days because I’ve never been before and I’ve heard it’s really good.”