Thitikul Beats Kang In Playoff, LPGA Rookie Wins 2nd event

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand birdied the second playoff hole to beat Danielle Kang and win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday.

The victory made the 19-year-old the first LPGA player in five years to win twice in her rookie season. Sung Hyun Park posted multiple wins in 2017.

Thitikul and the 29-year-old Kang finished the 54-hole event at the Pinnacle Country Club tied at 17-under.

A six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Kang was making her third tour start since June after undergoing treatment for a tumor on her spine.

Kang briefly took the lead, chipping in from near the green for an eagle at the final hole. Playing in the group behind her, Thitukul, who shot a final-round 68, made a birdie at No. 17 to tie for the lead.

The two matched pars on No. 15, the first extra hole, and then Thitikul made a birdie putt on No. 16 to win.

“It’s emotional,” said Kang, who had a final-round 64, her best of the tournament. “I’m just really proud that I’m even here. So obviously I wanted to win, but these are like tears of joy.”

Thitukul had won the JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol earlier the season in a playoff.

The $345,000 first-place check pushed her earnings to $1,881,392 for the season. She has made 19 cuts in 20 events and added nine additional top 10s, including a solo fourth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Thitikul became the fourth player with multiple victories this season, joining Jennifer Kupcho (3), Minjee Lee (2) and Brooke Henderson (2).

Thitikul jumped into contention on Saturday with a second-round 61, the lowest 18-hole LPGA score.

Chella Choi of South Korea finished third, a shot behind the leaders. Pornannong Phatlum of Thailand was alone in fourth at 14 under, a stroke ahead of seven players.