Atthaya Thitikul overtakes Nanna Koerstz Madsen in the playoffs to win the LPGA Tour’s JTBC Classic

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Atthaya Thitikul won the JTBC Classic Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title by making three putts for bogey on the second hole of a playoff but still passing Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

“It’s crazy in my head right now,” said Thitikul. “I can’t believe I became an LPGA winner. It also feels great.”

After Koerstz Madsen’s 15-foot bogey putt hit the rim of the cup and stayed out, 19-year-old Thitikul rolled her 10-foot par try close and potted for the breakthrough win.

“I have a lot of things on my mind,” said Thitikul. “But one thing I really want to focus on is, ‘Get every single shot.’ Just like ‘If you lose, if you win, this is another chance to learn. So do your best with every single shot.’ That’s it.”

At 19 years, 25 days, Thitikul is the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour since Brooke Henderson at the 2016 Portland Classic at 18 years, 9 months, 23 days. The Thai player also has two wins on the Ladies European Tour.

Koerstz Madsen lost two weeks after winning a playoff in Thailand to become the first Danish champion in LPGA Tour history.

They made pars on the first extra drive down 18, with Thitikul missing an 8-foot birdie attempt. Koerstz Madsen drove to the left on the second playoff hole and hit her second from an awkward stance near the cart portion into the water at the green.

“It’s a hard blow,” said Koerstz Madsen. “It’s a hybrid from the rough – not a very good lay, overfoot. I was just trying not to pull it from that location too much and then obviously I didn’t pull it. I pushed it pretty hard.”

Thitikul hit an 8-under 64, made nine birdies and a bogey to post at 16-under 272 at Aviara Golf Club in the final event before next week’s first Major of the season at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage.

Koerstz Madsen, who started the round three shots ahead of Na Rin An and six ahead of Thitikul, had a 70. She went ahead with a birdie on the par-5 17th, then bogeyed 18 to drop into the playoffs.

“It wasn’t a very good playoff,” said Koerstz Madsen. “I’ve played a good week and I’m happy with the game. I could have maybe done a little bit better today but it was what I could do.”

An finished third with 15 under after 68.

“I think I played well overall, but there were some parts that were a bit disappointing,” said An. “With a big tournament next week, I want to focus even more on my game.”

Leader Jin Young Ko (68) was 14 below Pajaree Anannarukarn (68) and Maude-Aimee Leblanc (68). With a win three weeks ago in Singapore, Ko extended her tour record for consecutive underperforming rounds to 34. She has won six of her last 11 tournaments.

“I’m really looking forward to playing at the Major next week,” Ko said. “But the last tournament in Mission Hills is also a bit sad.” Atthaya Thitikul overtakes Nanna Koerstz Madsen in the playoffs to win the LPGA Tour’s JTBC Classic

Joel McCord

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