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Atthaya Thitikul feels 'pressure' being new world No. 1 and still trying to improve

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After missing out on a chance to become world No. 1 in Korea two weeks ago, it wouldn't be long before that feat came Atthaya Thitikul's way. 

The 19-year-old Thai needed a fourth-place finish in her last start at the BMW Ladies Championship to claim the top spot in the Rolex Rankings. She held the 54-hole lead, but shot a final-round 74 and finished sixth. 

But after a bye week on tour, the world-ranking math worked in Thitikul's favor and she entered this week's Toto Japan Classic as world No. 1. At 19, she became the second-ever LPGA player to reach that accomplishment before age 20 (Lydia Ko did it at 17 years old). 

Full-field tee times from the Toto Japan Classic

That kind of prestige, however, comes with some baggae.

"Being No. 1 is pressure," Thitikul said Wednesday. 

"I hadn’t thought that I would be No. 1 in the world that fast. And I didn’t think I would achieve this in my first year on the LPGA as well. Overall, I’m feeling great. Feeling grateful that this has happened this year."

Atthaya Thitikul, 19, on top of world rankings for first time

Atthaya Thitikul, 19, on top of world rankings for first time

Thitikul has won twice this season and has posted 12 additional top-10s en route to becoming the second player from Thailand to hold the Rolex Rankings' No. 1 spot. Ariya Jutanugarn first accomplished the feat in June 2017.

Thitikul is no stranger to making history. In 2017, at age 14, she became the youngest-ever player to win a professional golf tournament at the Ladies European Tour's Thailand Championship. Last year, she was the youngest to win the LET's Race to Costa del Sol. 

Now, even after adding another accolade to her growing resume, she still sees room for growth. 

"I don’t know how long I’m going to be No. 1 in the world, but at least it’s just a ranking," she said. "But, what you have to do is improve yourself a lot. I mean, no matter where I am – No. 1, 10, 20 or 100 – I’m just trying to improve myself and be myself every day that I play as a person and as a competitor as well."