Ariya Jutanugarn- file photo LET
Eight years after a gut-wrenching loss in the event, when not at that stage an LPGA Tour player, 25 year old Ariya Jutanugarn has become the first Thai golfer to win the Honda LPGA Thailand in Chonburi, Thailand, a final round of 63 allowing her to climb from 9th place overnight to a one shot victory.
Jutanugarn had teed off some 24 minutes ahead of the final group but after a final hole birdie had completed her 9 under par round, she was forced to wait a further one hour due to a weather delay as the final two groups were playing the last.
Only 18-year-old, Atthaya Thitikul, who was playing in the final group of the day could alter the outcome by producing a birdie at the last but despite a stunning drive and a second which flew over the top of the flag she was unable to get up and down for birdie at the par 5 and Jutanugarn had won her 11th LPGA Tour title.
In 2013 Jutanugarn, as a 17-year-old, had tripled bogeyed the 18th hole on this same course to cost her a first LPGA Tour title and a card to play the LPGA Tour.
She would go on however to become the world number one, win two majors and in a three-year space between 2016 and 2018 she would dominate women’s golf with a power game that left so many others in her wake.
It was an emotional Jutanugarn who faced the media after her win.
“It just feels so good, not only for Thai player to win, but I would say I have really tough time last two years,” said Jutanugarn. “I’m thinking about like, you know, I don’t know how many time I told my psychology, like, you know, what I want to rest, no more. I want to stop for a while.
“I would say this (win) mean the world to me, because after 2013, one of my biggest dream is to be able to win in Thailand, and I did.
“So thank you for all the fans who really give me like full support. It’s mean so much to me. I will say this win is for you guys. Thank you.
“Every time when I look at all the kids and I want them to — give them inspiration. So I feel like you know what, don’t give up. Do your best. Try harder. Keep trying. One day you will get it.”
Thitikul, added further to Thailand’s historic week when she fell one short and alone in 2nd place. She will rue a three-putt bogey at the 71st hole but she is clearly a soon to be star. She was one of three Thais to finish in the top three, the other being last weeks’ winner in Singapore, Patty Tatavanakit.
Amy Yang produced another of the week’s great performances when she finished in a share 3rd place when trying to win the title for the 4th time. Yang began the week with a horror opening nine of 39 but played her next 63 holes in 23 under par to go close to adding yet another Thailand title to her name.
Hannah Green eventually finished 7th after a final round of 68 although a bogey at her 17th hole and a failure to get up and down from just off the back of the 18th would prove costly in the final outcome.
“Yeah, no, I’m super happy to see how things are coming along,” said Green referring to her runner-up finish last week and now this further top ten. “Nate and I feel like we’re not far off, so pretty exciting. Hopefully I can keep peaking at the right events and hopefully have a trophy one day.
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko tied for 11th after she failed to build any momentum on the final day.
The LPGA Tour will now have a one week break before the Pure Silk Championship in Virginia.