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How Atthaya Thitikul won a trophy Sunday at CME without winning tournament

Atthaya Thitikul didn’t win a tournament this season, but that doesn’t mean she’ll leave Naples, Florida, without a trophy.

“I don’t have any trophy, but yeah, I have a Vare Trophy,” Thitikul said with a laugh after locking up the LPGA’s scoring title.

A 20-year-old from Thailand who owns two career wins on the LPGA and reached No. 1 in the world rankings about a year ago, Thitikul finished with a 69.533 scoring average over 75 rounds. She beat out Hyo Joo Kim (69.628 over 78 rounds) by less than a 0.1 strokes.

Thitikul is the first player in the award’s 70-year existence to win the scoring title without winning a tournament. She’s also just the second Thai to lift the Vare, following Ariya Jutanugarn in 2018.

“It means a lot, like we are heading in the right direction,” Thitikul added.

Thitikul’s fifth-place finish at the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday – six shots better than the T-13 Kim – marked her 13th top-10 finish of the season. A strong season by most standards, though Thitikul couldn’t help but share how a brief summer slump – two MCs in majors and a WD after an opening 79 at the Women’s Scottish – challenged her.

“You know what? I had no idea I was going to win the Vare Trophy, to be honest,” she said. “In the middle of the season, I played really bad. I mean, like missed two cuts in the major events and then also not playing quite good in the middle of the year. So, I think it’s really mean[ingful] for me when I just bounce back from like really [being] uncomfortable when I don’t have any confidence there during that time.

“It’s just like really happy that I got over it, got past it, overcame it.”