Defending champion recalls turning anger into success

J. Patrick Eaken

Suwannapura, who is from Bangkok, Thialand, has been playing golf since the age of 5. She credits her dad as the person who most influenced her game.
She shot 65-69-71-65—270 to finish 14-under par and win last year’s Marathon Classic in a playoff with Brittany Lincicome. It was Suwannapura’s first win on the LPGA Tour.
She’ll be back at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania this year to defend her title July 11-14. She was already back a couple weeks back during a media day event.
Leading the list of commitments is top-rated American, Lexi Thompson and Toledo native Stacy Lewis. 
Other commitments include 2019 tour winners Brooke Henderson, Minjee Lee and Sei Young Kim.  Other notable commitments include Danielle Kang, Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Gerina Piller, and past Marathon LPGA Classic champions Lydia Ko, Paula Creamer and So Yeon Ryu.
"We're delighted with the commitments we've received so far," stated Tournament Director Judd Silverman. 
All four rounds of the tournament will once again be nationally televised by The Golf Channel. This year’s champion will take home $262,500.
Silverman says there was plenty of drama to go with Suwannapura’s win last year, also televised nationally.
        “What I remember most about last year is watching the leader board and really, you were sort of focused for most of the day on two names — it wasn’t Suwannapura,” Silverman said.
        “It was Brooke Henderson and Brittany Lincicome. If you recall, Brooke Henderson was 15-under par and standing on the 15th tee with a one shot lead and she bogeyed 15 and then three-putted 16 and then she couldn’t birdie the last two holes. She missed both of her birdie putts so she dropped out at 13 (under),” Silverman continued at a recent media day event.
        “Jasmine three-putted the 16th hole and I just asked her about what she did on the 17th hole because on 17 she eagled with a fabulous chip-in from in front of the green and then she birdied the last hole to get to 14-under,” Silverman continued
        “When I asked her about that stretch, I said, ‘What did you hit on 17?’ That’s not an easy hole to knock it on the green or even just in front of it. She said, ‘I hit driver, driver because I was so mad because I three-putted 16.’
        “And she told her caddy, ‘I am going to eagle 17 and birdie 18’ and she did. Then, of course, Brittany Lincicome came to the last hole tied and had a five- or six-feet birdie putt that went all the way around the hole — probably one of the most severe lip-outs any of us have ever seen.
        “Then they went into the playoff, and Jasmine played the hole absolutely perfectly — perfect drive, perfect lay-up just to the right of the green, wonderful chip shot — just fabulous to hit it like that and she rolled it into win last year’s tournament. It was just a great way to hang in there. It was tough coming down the stretch — those last two holes, 17, 18, and then 18 again, she played four under par to win last year’s tournament.”
        Nearly reaching the par five in two shots is not surprising when you consider that Suwannapura’s average drive last year was 246.65 yards and her driving accuracy was 77.53 percent. The eagle was one of five she had on the tour last year to go along with 320 birdies and 42 rounds under par. She made the cut in 22 of 28 events in her career and has earned $1,222,536, including $491,117 last year. Her scoring average last year was 71.91.
Missing her flight
        This year, Suwannapura is doing even better — she is ranked sixth on the tour in eagles, matching last year’s total of five already, and has 71 birdies. After one top 10 finish last year, the Marathon Classic, she already has four this year, and is driving an average of 255.09 yards with a 79.62 percent accuracy hitting the fairway. She already has 20 rounds under par.
        At the media day event, Suwannapura said coming back to Highland Meadows brought back memories.
        “This reminds me of what is going on here. I feel like it happened maybe a couple months ago because I see myself there in the big room watching Brittany finish on 18 and I was like in shock because she lipped out, but then found out that I have to go to a playoff,” Suwannapura said.
        There were other sacrifices, like the one her long time caddie made when they reached the tournament ending playoff.
        “We were sitting there in the media center, and what happened is we had to drive her to the airport and my caddy knew that she was going to miss her flight,” Suwannapura said. “She did miss her flight for me, but we laughed about it. I have a different caddy this year at the tournament because she retired. She told me a few weeks before (another tournament) and I was crying.”
        Suwannapura says her hobbies outside of golf include playing games, listening to music and chilling at home, and says her greatest passion besides golf is table tennis. She qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt and her sponsors include Singha Corporation and PRGR. She turned professional in 2011.


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