Atthaya Thitkul Q&A: Newly minted world No. 1 talks her rise to stardom
There’s a new top dog in the game of women’s golf, and her name is Atthaya Thitikul.
Thitikul — affectionately known as “Jeeno” — became the 16th different player to reach the top spot in the Rolex Rankings earlier this month, passing Jin Young Ko who’d held the title since January. With her ascent to the top spot in the world ranking, Thitikul became the second player from Thailand to reach world No. 1, and the first LPGA rookie to earn the accolade since 2017.
Shortly after becoming world No. 1, GOLF.com sat down with the 19-year-old to chat about her rise to stardom.
Zephyr Melton: Jeeno, first off I just wanted to say congrats on becoming world No. 1.
Atthaya Thitikul: Thank you so much!
ZM: How does it feel knowing you’re the best player in the women’s game?
AT: It’s an amazing feeling and a really cool experience. To be in my first year on the LPGA Tour and become No. 1 in the world is really amazing. But at the same time, I feel like I’m not there yet to be called the “best.” I don’t have as much experience as some of the other top-ranked players have. But still, it’s a cool experience for me.
ZM: Did you ever imagine you’d be world No. 1 so early in your career?
AT: It is super early for me to become world No. 1. I never even thought about being No. 1 during my rookie year. I think it’s because I had a really good team with me and we put in a lot of really hard work to get to this point.
ZM: What’s been the biggest key to your rapid rise to the top?
AT: There’s a lot of things you need to be good at to be on top. I owe a lot to my team for setting the schedule for me to succeed this year. The big key has been enjoying myself on the course. It’s been wonderful.
ZM: In what ways do you think you can improve your game even more?
AT: I would say I can improve everything (laughs). What I really want to improve is my short game — chipping and putting. Because even if you have a bad day swinging it, you can bounce back with your short game. So that’s what I want to improve most.
ZM: What are your goals for the future that you’ve yet to accomplish?
AT: I want to win some majors. That would be a really cool experience. There’s only five every year, so getting a major win would be amazing.
ZM: Last question — tell me about your nickname, “Jeeno.” Where did that come from?
AT: A lot of people ask me about that (laughs). Normally my nickname is “Jeen,” without the “O.” But the first woman from Thailand on the LPGA Tour, she was my coach on the national team when I was a kid. She would call me Jeeno and I liked that so I took it.