With the Epson Tour Championship finally here, all eyes shift to the current top 10 in the Ascensus Race for the Card and those just outside of it. One more name that fans will want to pay attention to is Prima Thammaraks. The Thai heads to Daytona as the defending champion and low 72-hole record holder.
“It feels great [to defend],” said Thammaraks. “LPGA International is a special place for me, and this tournament is an iconic way to close out the season. I’m happy to be part of the tradition, and the win here will always be one close to the heart for me.”
Returning to Daytona means a little bit more to Thammaraks this year, especially after Hurricane Ian made its way through the state of Florida last week.
“A lot goes into putting this tournament together,” said Thammaraks. “This year especially, with Hurricane Ian having just gone through Daytona. So, I’m very honored to return as the defending champ. I hope it’ll be one good final showdown for all the girls, too.'
Last year, the championship event was make or break for Thammaraks. If she finished well, she wouldn’t have to play at Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. This would also mean getting to go home to Thailand for a month. Traveling for business started to get to Thammaraks, resulting in some pressure for a top-finish to end the season and an exemption into Q-Series.
Before traveling to Daytona in 2021, Thammaraks had a conversation with a friend and big brother figure. The conversation eased up the pressure, allowing the Thai to drop her expectations and play comfortably. She hopes to keep a similar mindset as she defends her title this week.
“I think it's going to be a very similar experience going in with fewer expectations,” said Thammaraks. “I’m just trying to play one shot at a time and enjoy myself out there.”
Thammaraks prepares for the Epson Tour Championship the same way she does for the other 20 events, except in Daytona she has some extra comfort. The Thai goes so far as to joke that she’s played LPGA International just as many times as her home course in Thailand.
“Luckily, this place holds a lot of memory for me,” said Thammaraks. “We played that course so many times. My first LPGA orientation was there, and final stage used to be there, so it holds a lot of memory, and I know that course well. I think I have that to my advantage.”
Reflecting on her season, Thammaraks remembers both the positive and negative leading up to the Epson Tour Championship. After going through what she can’t control, like bad weather, and suffering a foot injury, the Thai feels like she’s on an upward trend.
“I feel like I've overcome a lot,” said Thammaraks. “At this point in the season, I feel like my game is coming back together, and I feel a lot more like myself.”