Ariya Jutanugarn hopes her dramatic US Women’s Open victory will be instrumental in attracting more young Thais into golf.
Ariya with the US Women’s Open trophy. Picture by USGA.
“I want to inspire all the kids in Thailand,” said Ariya, after defeating Korean Kim Hyo-joo in extra time at Shoal Creek to become the first Thai to win the US Open.
It was a remarkable week for the 22-year-old Ariya who arrived at Shoal Creek last Monday, only for her clubs to fail to join her. They arrived just in time for practice rounds to be cancelled with the arrival of Subtropical Storm Alberto, limiting her practice to just nine holes.
When the 2016 Ricoh 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 Ariya, 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.
She added three more bogeys on her closing stretch to open the door for Kim, who carded the only bogey-free closing round and finished 72 holes tied with Ariya at 11-under-par. It took four extra holes for Ariya to defeat Kim and win her second Major title.
As well as being the first player from Thailand to win the US Women’s Open, Ariya also became the first two-time winner in 2018 as the first 13 events of the season were won by different players. Ariya won two weeks prior at the Kingsmill Championship.
With her win, Ariya also climbed three spots to number two in the Rolex Rankings.
“I’m really honoured to join the list of winners before me,” said Ariya, 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 Ricoh Women’s British Open.