Jutanugarn’s second win in a major championship
Thailand golfer Ariya Jutanugarn hopes her dramatic win in the United States Women’s Open will be instrumental in attracting more young Thais into golf.
“I want to inspire all the kids in Thailand,” Jutanugarn said after defeating Korean player Kim Hyo-joo in extra time at Shoal Creek in Alabama to become the first Thai to win the US Open.
It was a remarkable week for the 22-year-old who arrived at Shoal Creek on the Monday, only for her clubs to fail to join her. The clubs arrived just in time for practice rounds which ended up being cancelled with the arrival of a storm, limiting her practice to just nine holes.
When the 2016 Women’s British Open champion teed it up for Thursday’s first round, that was the first time she was playing half the golf course.
But the week’s challenges never fazed Jutanugarn, who led by four strokes at the start of the final round and cruised to a seven-stroke lead with just nine holes to play.
But when she chose to hit a three-wood off the tee at the 10th hole, where she didn’t feel comfortable with the club selection, she went on to make triple-bogey and her back nine further unravelled from there.
After the errant tee shot on No 10, which soared into the right-side hazard, Jutanugarn said she was “a little bit scared my next shot.”
Then her caddie, Les Luark, stepped in, Jutanugarn explained.
“So I tee off on 11, I told my caddie, I don’t know how to hit this one,’” Jutanugarn said. “He’s like, come on, do you want to win? I’m like, yes. He said, okay. Then we have to do it.”
Jutanugarn added three more bogeys on her closing stretch to open the door for Hyo-joo, who carded the only bogey-free closing round and finished 72 holes tied with Jutanugarn at 11-under-par. It took four extra holes for Jutanugarn to defeat Hyo-joo and win her second major championship title.
As well as being the first player from Thailand to win the US Women’s Open, Jutanugarn also became the first two-time winner in 2018 as the first 13 events of the season were all won by different players. Jutanugarn had won two weeks prior at the Kingsmill Championship.
“I’m really honoured to join the list of winners before me,” said Jutanugarn, who adds her name to Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Pak Se-ri and Park In-bee as the only ones to win both the US Women’s Open and the Women’s British Open.
The playoff was the first use of a new two-hole aggregate playoff for USGA open championships.
Hyo-joo rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole – No 14 – while Jutanugarn made par. On the second hole – No 18 – Hyo-joo failed to make an up-and-down from a greenside bunker while Jutanugarn made a great chip from behind the green and rolled in a five-foot putt to push the extra session to sudden death playoff.
Going back to No 14, Hyo-joo barely missed a 20-foot birdie try that would have won it. Jutanugarn then rolled in a four-footer after a brilliant bunker shot.
On the fourth playoff hole, both players had bunker shots with Hyo-joo leaving hers 15 feet from the hole while Jutanugarn hit hers to 18 inches. Hyo-joo missed and Jutanugarn tapped in for victory.
“On the front nine, I did everything I want to do, but that back got me a lot,” Jutanugarn said.