Thai teen Atthaya Thitikul becomes second youngest women’s world No. 1

Thai golfer Atthaya Thitikul during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at Oak Valley Country Club, South Korea in October.
CNN  — 

Carrying the weight of a child prodigy tag can be daunting, though clearly not for Atthaya Thitikul.

Five years after bursting onto the scene as golf’s youngest ever champion, the 19-year-old Thai took her meteoric rise to new heights to become the women’s world No. 1 on Monday.

Thitikul leapfrogged Ko Jin-young to the top of the rankings at the age of 19 years, eight months and 11 days.

In doing so Thitikul becomes the second youngest golfer to reach the summit of the women’s game.

Only world No. 3 Lydia Ko achieved the feat at a younger age, reaching the pinnacle aged 17 years, nine months and nine days in February 2015.

Already a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Thitikul is also only the second player – after Park Sung-hyun – to have reached the world No.1 slot in their rookie season.

“It means a lot for my team, my family, my supporters and myself. It is such an honor to have my name at the top amongst the biggest names of the game,” said Thitikul.

“It is very special to get to the top but it is much harder to retain it. I still have a lot to learn from all the legends and current players both on and off the course. I will continue to work hard for my family, my team, my fans and my country.”

Breakneck climb

Thitikul made headlines around the world in 2017 when, just four months after her 14th birthday, she won the Ladies European Thailand Championship to become the youngest winner of a professional golf tournament.

Since turning professional in 2020, the teen has steadily climbed up the rankings.

She broke into the top-100 for the first time in July 2021, surging to 61st the following month with a stunning fifth-place finish at the Evian Championship.

After adding her fourth win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) at the Swiss Ladies Open, Thitikul secured her card for the LPGA Tour in December, setting the stage for her rookie season this year.