LPGA.com counts down to the end of 2013 with the LPGA Tour's 13 top stories of the year. Join us as we look back at the year's most memorable milestones. Read about the beginning of the year of Inbee Park in Story No. 12.
In the second event of the 2013 season at the Honda LPGA Thailand it seemed definite that 17-year-old Thailand sensation Ariya Jutanugarn was going to notch her first professional victory in front of her hometown crowd. What seemed like a nearly fairytale finish for Jutanugarn instead took a turn for the worse in the last second.
Jutanugarn had a three-stroke lead heading into the final round. She played it steady on the front nine, carding two birdies and a bogey to sit at 1-under as she made the turn. At the same time, South Korean Inbee Park, who entered Sunday’s final round four shots behind Jutanugarn, had taken the lead by one stroke.
But a fantastic hole-in-one on the par-3 12th hole pulled Jutanugarn back into the lead. She held an easy two-shot advantage entering the 18th hole, feeling confident she’d come out as champion.
But things fell apart quickly for Jutanugarn on her final hole. After hitting her second shot into the right front bunker, Jutanugarn had to take a drop and a one-stroke penalty for an unplayable lie. She then hit her fourth shot over the green and was faced with a tricky downhill shot which she left short with the ball still on the fringe. Her putt -- her sixth shot of the hole -- slid by and she had about a 3-foot uphill putt left to make for double-bogey in order to force a playoff. But the putt rimmed the hole and Jutanugarn tapped in for an eight which gave Park a one-shot victory. It wound up being the first of Park’s six victories in her history-making 2013 season.
“I just didn’t expect this kind of finish,” said Park. “Out of all the other wins, this win just felt like it was not as much work this week. It was a lot easier this week for me and I really want to congratulate Ariya for her fantastic golf the last four days. She has a lot of fans out here and she’s very talented. So I think I’ll be seeing more of her.”