Ariya Jutanugarn Wins Second Major Title
What a week it was for Ariya Jutanugarn.
Monday, the 22-year-old arrived at Shoal Creek for the U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA, but her golf clubs didn’t make the trip. 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 Jutanugarn, who put on an incredible performance at Shoal Creek. She 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 3-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 unraveled from there. She added three more bogeys on her closing stretch to open the door for Hyo Joo Kim, who carded the only bogey-free round on Sunday and finished 72-holes tied with Jutanugarn at 11-under par. It took four extra holes for Jutanugarn to defeat Kim and win her second major title.
With her victory on Sunday, Jutanugarn became the first player from Thailand to win the U.S. Women’s Open. She also became the first two-time winner in 2018 as the first 13 events of the season were won by different players. Jutanugarn also won two weeks prior at the Kingsmill Championship. With her win, Jutanugarn also climbed three spots to No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings.
Shoal Creek Brings Out The Best
Shoal Creek presented a tough and fair test and players thrived, especially those players looking to win their first major title. Of the 16 players that finished T10 or better, six of those players recorded their best major finish on Sunday. For the first time in a major, Carlota Ciganda finished solo third, four-strokes outside the playoff between Kim and Jutanugarn. Sarah Jane Smith, who held the 36-hole lead, backed up on Sunday with a 78, but finished T5 to record her best finish in a major. Wei-Ling Hsu finished tied with Smith, also a career best. Nasa Hataoka picked up her third consecutive top 10 on Tour and best major finish at T10. Megan Khang and Nelly Korda also finished T10, a first for both in a major.
Rain, Rain Go Away
From the moment the week began, the weather and the subsequent course conditions topped storylines. Subtropical Storm Alberto rolled into Birmingham Monday evening and proceeded to dump more than four inches of rain on Shoal Creek. Due to the heavy rainfall, the course was closed Tuesday to players, fans, media and spectators. Wednesday the rain continued, and the course again remained closed, resulting in the cancellation of the morning practice rounds. Players openly expressed their concerns about the condition of the course, worried that the USGA’s desire to play the ball down would result in an unfair test. But when players arrived to the course Thursday, they were pleasantly surprised by what they found. Several dozen members of the USGA’s staff, as well as volunteers, worked through the night to prepare the course for play. Players were left in awe at the course they found Thursday morning and raved about the immaculate conditions. But it didn’t last long. Storms barreled through Birmingham Friday and dropped another inch of rain, which caused delays and pushed the completion of the second round to Saturday morning. Ariya Jutanugarn was one of those players forced to return to the course to complete her second round Saturday morning. She played 28 holes on Saturday before going on to win Sunday.
Highlights from Jutanugarn's Win
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