After nine missed cuts on the LPGA, Chanettee Wannasaen comes through Monday qualifying to win her first LPGA Tour title at the Portland Classic
It only takes one week – or in Chanettee Wannasaen’s case, 72 holes – for history to be made. After losing in a play-off at the Epson Tour’s Circling Raven Championship last week, Wannasaen made it into the Portland Classic field through the Monday qualifier, and entered the event having missed the cut in her last nine LPGA Tour starts with only $4,586 to her name in career earnings.
After a sensational nine-under-par 63 on Sunday at Columbia Edgewater, the 19-year-old Thai native etched her name in the history books as the third-ever Monday qualifier to win on the LPGA Tour, with a total score of 262 (-26), a new tournament record.
“I'm feel really proud of myself because I really work hard for the trophy and it's very happen right now. I'm really glad for myself,” said Wannasaen. “I feel thank you to my team, to my manager, to my caddie, to all the fan, my family to cheering for me.”
Starting Sunday one shot back of 54-hole leader Megan Khang, Wannasaen played lights out in the final round with what seemed like no sign of nerves from the 2023 LPGA Tour rookie.
She came out swinging on the front nine – carding five-straight sub-par holes, four birdies and one eagle on five, to turn in 30 and at -23. From there, she notched three more birdies on 13, 14 and 17 to become the first since Brooke Henderson at the 2015 Portland Classic to earn an LPGA Tour title after successfully Monday qualifying at the start of the week.
Watch final round highlights from the Portland Classic
“I don't give up. I always to work hard, to work hard for improve my short game, improve my mind, improve my play,” said Wannasaen, who becomes the 10th Rolex First-Time Winner this season and the third rookie to earn a Tour victory in 2023. “I do everything for get a trophy.”
This may be the first LPGA title for the Thai player but this is her ninth professional win, after a hugely successful 2022 season which saw her win twice on the Thai LPGA Tour, three of the Trust Golf Mixed Series events in Thailand and she won the LET Access Series Trust Golf Links Series event at Ramside Hall.
The competition was tough
A crowded leaderboard gave their best effort to catch Wannasaen to no avail, including Xiyu Lin, whose eight-under-par 64 vaulted her into solo second, her fifth runner-up performance of the past two seasons. Lin, who started the tournament with a double bogey, two bogeys and a birdie in her first nine holes on Thursday, followed up the next 63 holes carding only one lone bogey on Saturday on the par-3 8th. Her final round included eight birdies, including six in her closing 10 holes with two of them coming down the stretch on 17 and 18.
“I kind of wish I can cross the first nine holes I ever played off, and then I'll be 25-under,” said Lin. “But like I have been struggle a little bit with my putter recently, so this week I change a grip, change the setup a little bit, and like I said, the first nine hole on Thursday I really thought I'm going home. So the way I battle it back it's pretty good, and to see the putter working it's a great feeling.”
Major champion Ruoning Yin, LPGA Tour winner Carlota Ciganda and Epson Tour graduate Gina Kim finished in a tie for third at -20, while last week’s CPKC Women’s Open champion Khang shot a one-under-par 71 to grab a solo sixth in Portland.
Ariya Jutanugarn and Atthaya Thitikul – who were both on the green to celebrate Wannasaen’s victory – along with Linn Grant tied for seventh at -18. The 2022 Portland Classic champion Andrea Lee tied for 10th at -17 with Hyo Joon Jang, who carded a 62 on Saturday to play in her first final grouping at an LPGA Tour event. Jang shot a 72 on Sunday to finish with her first top-10 result on Tour.
“It's really hard to describe in a word, but definitely I learned a lot because I really haven't had this experience before,” said Jang. “So I was really grateful and I loved it.”
There's one more event to go before the Solheim Cup and this week the LPGA moves to Cincinnati and the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G at Kenwood Country Club.