Decisive birdie makes it a happy homecoming for Panitta

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A finishing birdie propelled Chonburi-based Panitta Yusabai past teen star Atthaya Thitikul by a stroke to claim her maiden victory in the Bt1-million Singha-SAT Thai LPGA Championship in Nakhon Nayok province on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Symetra Tour player was tied with the two-time Ladies European Tour winner at seven under with one hole to play. A two-foot birdie putt, however, proved the clincher for Panitta who won the fifth circuit of the Thai LPGA series with an eight-under-par 208 at the par-72 6,449-yard Royal Hill Golf Resort and Spa.

“I was trying to shoot scores all day, but it was not easy,” said Panitta, who suffered four bogeys after 10 holes before recovering to fire three birdies for a final round 73. “That birdie just came at the right time,” added Panitta, who finally had a breakthrough win after two years as a professional player.

“It’s nice to come back to Thailand [after graduating in the US] and play with familiar faces again. This win is a good boost for me to work harder and try to win more,” added Panitta, who was richer by Bt120,000 as the winner.

Seventeen-year-old Atthaya, winner of the third circuit last month, had to be content with second place.

“I wasn’t hoping for a play-off or anything to be honest. I was already satisfied with my play in the third round, which was a lot better than on Friday,” said Atthaya who won Bt69,000.