Ariya ‘Nong May’ Jutanugarn is once again the world’s No.1 women’s golfer after her win on Sunday at East Lothian, Scotland. (Photo via LPGA.com)
EAST LOTHIAN, Scotland: Ariya Jutanugarn won the Ladies’ Scottish Open by a stroke on Sunday, and has regained her ranking as No.1 female golfer in the world.
Ariya battled with Minjee Lee of Australia on a windy course at Gullane Golf Club in East Lothian, Scotland.
Both fired final-round scores of 66, handing Ariya the win by a single stroke. The two duelled alone on Sunday, with the rest of the field trailing.
Third-place South Koreans Haeji Kang and Jin Young Ko were five shots behind the dominating duo.
“I’m a little surprised because I didn’t play golf for like two weeks,” said Ariya, who spent the last two weeks before the Ladies Scottish Open in Bangkok. “I didn’t practice at all, and I don’t really like windy or links courses.
“It means a lot to me to win the tournament. I told the caddie this week, you know, what I really want to win on a links course, even one time in my life will be good, so right now my dream came true.”
Full interview == pic.twitter.com/8GVSTh0RfO
— LPGA (@LPGA) July 29, 2018
Her lone mistake on Sunday came at the par 4, 6th where she made bogey to drop out of a share of the lead with her playing partners, Amy Yang and Lee. But she bounced back with birdies on her next three holes in a row to make the turn in 32 with a two-stroke lead.
She then added two more birdies on her inward nine to hold off a charging Lee, who missed a birdie putt at the 18th that could have forced a playoff.
“I was striking the ball pretty well and putting probably the best I have out of the last three days, four days,” Lee said on Sunday. “Overall, it was a good week and looking forward to next week.”
That is the 43rd Women’s British Open, a major event, beginning Thursday at Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club’s links course. Eight Thais will play including Ariya, six other familiar LPGA pros and amateur Atthaya Thitikul.
Ariya also leads the ladies’ tour in scoring average, birdies, putting average and top 10s. “Her game is unstoppable. And with her mental game on par with her physical capabilities, there’s no limit to what she could do next,” according to a report Sunday by LPGA.com.
Ariya and Lee showed no fear of the wind, which sprang up on Saturday and continued under dark clouds at the Gullane Golf Club, East Lothian, Scotland. But the weather clearly affected many of the players.
Ariya’s tournament was highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 16th hole during Saturday’s third round – the shot that put her in the lead to begin play on Sunday.
— LPGA (@LPGA) July 29, 2018
After that spectacular shot, the LPGA Twitter account found an old GIF of Ariya with, well, an eagle.
Minjee Lee and Amy Yang are 1 back. pic.twitter.com/NtrlNg5GUF
— LPGA (@LPGA) July 28, 2018
Ariya’s winner’s share of the $1.5 million purse in the tournament is $225,000, or about 7.5 million baht. She has earned $2,022,765 this season and $6,606,097 for her career, the equivalent of more than 220 million baht.
Other Thais who finished well at the Scotland tournament included Thidapa Suwannapura, who finished 21st with a four-day score of two under par, and Pornanong Phatlum, who finished a stroke behind Thidapa in a tie for 28th.
“Big Sister” Moriya Jutanugarn and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras were tied for 35th place a stroke behind Pornanong.
On Monday, Ariya will officially move back to No. 1 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings, a spot she held for two weeks in June of 2017. She is the only Thai, male or female, to be ranked as best in the world.
She is the current leader in the Player of the Year race, and has won more money this year than any other woman golfer.
Sunday was her 10th win on the LPGA tour, and her third on the Ladies’ European Tour. She has won three times this season, including her second major title at the US Women’s Open.