Pimpisa Rubrong, 16-year-old from Thailand, plays like a veteran in capturing CGA Women’s Match Play title
By Gary Baines – 6/16/2023
Pimpisa Rubrong won’t go down as the youngest winner of the CGA Women’s Match Play Championship, which was being conducted this week for the 108th straight year. But it’s safe to say she’s one of the youngest.
The 16-year-old from Thailand, competing in Colorado for the first time, captured the Women’s Match Play crown on Friday with a 9-and-7 victory over former University of Colorado golfer Malak Bouraeda in the scheduled 36-hole final at Columbine Country Club.
It’s not clear who the youngest winner ever of the Women’s Match Play is, but in 2005 Coloradan Becca Huffer came out on top the summer she turned 15.
Still, earning an open-age state championship the same year a person can first obtain a driver’s license isn’t half bad.
“I feel very happy. It’s amazing,” said Rubrong, the No. 40-ranked girls player in the world, according to Junior Golf Scoreboard.
Rubrong chipped in for birdie on the 15th hole of the match on Friday.
Rubrong is among some Thai junior golfers who recently traveled to Colorado to starting competing in multiple U.S.-based tournaments over the next month, with the next one on the agenda being Tuesday’s U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifying at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. The U.S. Girls’ Junior national championship is being hosted by Eisenhower Golf Course at the Air Force Academy next month.
Coming out on top in the CGA Women’s Match Play is no small feat, but to do so with a 9-and-7 finals victory over a player who competed in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open is all the more impressive.
“My opponent was dialed in today, for sure,” said Bouraeda, who just wrapped up her CU golf career. “It was a pleasure to watch her play and to play alongside her.”
It took a little while for Rubrong to get warmed up on Friday, but once she did, the results were stellar. For the final 15 holes of the match, she recorded seven birdies. The last two? On the par-3 10th hole — the 28th of the match — she nearly made a hole-in-one, her ball finishing 6 inches from the cup. And on the par-4 11th, she hit her approach to 2 feet for another conceded birdie that ended the match.
“Today was kind of good,” she said. “There was not pressure. I just tried my best.”
Asked if she hit the ball unusually well on Friday, Rubrong said, “Today is normal. Every hole I hit the same.”
Runner-up Malak Bouraeda just wrapped up her college golf career at CU.
Mind you, this is a golfer who was competing in the Colorado altitude for the first time, so she had to make significant adjustments for the ball traveling farther than in her homeland.
“I feel very happy to make the final and win the final. I feel it’s important,” she said.
Bouraeda, 22, was trying to become the second CU golfer in the last four years to win the CGA Women’s Match Play, with Kirsty Hodgkins having captured the title in 2020. But while Bouraeda tied the match with back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, things went Rubrong’s way in a hurry after that. Starting on hole 14, she won 10 of the remaining 16 holes and lost just one during that stretch.
In her five matches in Colorado, Rubrong prevailed by scores of 6 and 4, 2 up, 7 and 6, 2 and 1 (over a fellow Thai player) and 9 and 7 in the two-round final.
Rubrong finished with a bang on Friday.
“To be honest, I really didn’t play too bad,” Bouraeda said. “… I take it in strides, but it definitely wasn’t my worst performance and it definitely wasn’t my best.
“Golf is stroke play more times than not, so moving forward for my stroke-play events, I feel more confident knowing that my game is trending in the right direction for sure.”
Bouraeda plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur on Wednesday at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster.
CGA Women’s Match Play Results
Final Rounds at Columbine CC in Columbine Valley
Tarapath Panya, Thailand, def. Jessica Osden, CommonGround GC, 4 and 3
Pimpisa Rubrong, Thailand, def. Kylee Hughes, Eagle Ranch GC, 7 and 6
Malak Bouraeda, Colorado National GC, def. Marilyn Hardy, Dos Rios GC, 2 and 1
Sloane Bayer, Paradise Valley, Ariz., def. Kaitlin Zingler, CGA Junior, 5 and 4
Pimpisa Rubrong, Thailand, def. Tarapath Panya, Thailand, 2 and 1
Malak Bouraeda, Colorado National GC, def. Sloane Bayer, Paradise Valley, Ariz., 5 and 4
36-HOLE FINAL FRIDAY
Pimpisa Rubrong, Thailand, def. Malak Bouraeda, Colorado National GC, 9 and 7
For all the results, CLICK HERE.
About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com