How an obscure teenager, a rookie and Monday qualifier, shocked the LPGA in winning the Portland Classic

Chanettee Wannasaen of Thailand

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Steve Dykes

A Monday qualifier does it again in Portland. Chanattee Wannasaen, 19 and Monday qualifier, ran away with the Portland Classic Sunday with a bogey-free nine-under 63 to win by four at 26 under par. Here is how the Thai native became the third-ever Monday qualifier to win on the LPGA Tour and the second at the Portland Classic.

Leaderboard

Wannasaen (-26)

Xiyu Lin (-22)

Carlota Ciganda (-20)

Ruoning Yin (-20)

Gina Kim (-20)

Quotable

“It’s everything to me because I miss cut about nine events before this tournament, you know, but I’m very hopeful for make it happen, and it happen now,” Wannasaen said.

What it means

Wannasaen joined Laurel Kean at the 2000 State Farm LPGA Classic and Brooke Henderson winning the Portland Classic in 2015 as the three Monday qualifiers to win on the LPGA. That’s not the only history Wannasaen accomplished Sunday, as her 26-under performance set the tournament record by five, bettering the previous mark of 21 under held by Henderson in 2015 and Hannah Green in 2019.

Wannasaen (367) is the third winner this season from outside the top 300 on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, joining Rose Zhang (482) at the Mizuho America’s Open in June and Alexa Pano (402) at the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.

Wannasaen also guaranteed her status for the rest of this season and the next two years on the LPGA, none of which seemed likely at the start of the week. Wannasean began the Portland Classic at 176th on the CME points list, a position that would not have guaranteed a spot in Q-Series, the LPGA’s qualifying tournament.

How it happened

Megan Khang, a first-time winner at the CKPC Women’s Open a week earlier, held the 54-hole lead for the second week in a row, by one over Wannasaen and Hyo Joon Kang. Sunday quickly turned into all Wannasaen, despite the Monday qualifier not someone anyone might have identified as capable of playing herself into contention on Sunday.

Wannasaen had missed nine consecutive cuts heading into the Portland Classic, forcing her to Monday qualify for the tournament. Wannasaen’s only momentum was a playoff loss last week on the Epson Tour, as her last made cut on the LPGA was back in March. Her best finish was a T-51 at the limited-field Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Instead of faltering under the pressure of a potential life-changing round, the Thai quickly took the lead after rattling off four birdies and an eagle from the third through seventh to take a four-shot lead at 23 under.

At the turn, Wannasaen was three up on Khang, who squandered birdie opportunities at Nos. 10 and 11. Khang ended up at 19 under, seven behind Wannasaen.

Wannasaen birdied the 13th and 14th holes to open a five-stroke lead. A cap-off birdie on the par-4 17th punctuated her dominant closing round that featured seven birdies and an eagle. She became the seventh Thai to ever win on the LPGA

Best of the rest:

Gina Kim, who like Wannasaen had struggled to make the weekend having missed nine of her last 10 cuts, delivered a Sunday six-under 66 to finish T-3. Kim surged from 127th on the LPGA’s CME points list to 84th, crucially moving inside the top 100, a position that guarantees quality playing opportunity status for 2024.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot with my game finally, you know, but better late than never,” Kim said. “I’m just really proud of myself for sticking it through and just staying committed to the routine regardless of what the situation was.”

Biggest disappointment

Yuka Saso began Sunday at 11 under and T-16, trailing by six and in the mix for her sixth top 10 over her last nine starts. Instead, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open winner carded a six-over 78, Sunday’s worst round, to tumble down the leaderboard and finish T-59.

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