Women’s golf is loaded with young, rising talent as yet another teenager has won on the LPGA in 2023.
Five players were within four shots of the lead as the final group made the turn to the back nine on Sunday at the 2023 Portland Classic, but none of them caught Chanettee Wannasaen.
The 19-year-old rookie was a Monday qualifier for this week’s event at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Oregon but left with the trophy after a memorable week in the Pacific Northwest. Wannasaen shot her season-low round of 66 on Friday and went one better with a Saturday 65 before a blistering bogey-free 9-under 63 on Sunday sealed the deal at 26 under for her first LPGA win, the 10th player to accomplish the feat this season.
A native of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Wannasaen last won in June of 2022 at the Trust Golf Links Series – Ramside Hall on the Ladies European Tour Access Series after a pair of wins earlier in the year on the Thai LPGA Tour at the Singha Pattaya Ladies Open and Thai LPGA Championship. She made the cut in her first two LPGA starts in February and March of this year at the LPGA Drive On Championship (T-57) and Honda LPGA Thailand (T-51), respectively, but hadn’t made a cut in nine starts since.
“I miss cut about like nine events in LPGA tournament this year,” said Wannasaen on Saturday. “That get me more confident.”
That confidence showed on Sunday as the teenager played the final round with ease and handled the pressure with the confidence of a multi-major champion. After a par-par start, Wannasaen caught fire with a five-hole stretch of birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie on Nos. 3-7 to take a three-shot lead with nine holes to play. Wannasaen added three more birdies on the back at Nos. 13, 14 and 17 to cruise to a four-shot win.
Wannasaen is just the third player to Monday qualify and then win the same week on the LPGA, joining Laurel Kean at the 2000 State Farm LPGA Classic and Brooke Henderson, who also Monday qualified for the Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club and went on to win the event in 2015. Yealimi Noh almost joined Kean, Noh and now Wannasaen at the 2019 Portland Classic, but the then-18-year-old blew a three-shot lead on Sunday as Hannah Green went on to win by a single shot.