Jutanugarn Wins in 156th Start on LPGA Tour
It’s finally Moriya Jutanugarn’s time.
For the last two years, Moriya watched her younger sister, Ariya, make history on Tour as the first player from Thailand to win a major championship and add six more wins to her resume. But Sunday, it was Moriya who etched the siblings’ name in the history books. With her victory, the Jutanugarns join Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the only other sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.
This time it was Ariya, with an arm around their mother, and tears in her eyes, who nervously watched as her sister won for the first time on the LPGA Tour. When the last putt dropped, the sisters shared a long hug, both with tears streaming, sharing the relief of years having waited for this moment.
Six years after joining the LPGA Tour and being named Rolex Rookie of the Year, Moriya captured her first win at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open at Wilshire Country Club. Sunday, the 23-year old posted a final round 3-under par, 68 to win at 12-under par, 2-strokes ahead of rookie Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park.
“It feels great," Moriya told Golf Channel after her round. “I keep doing what I’m doing and it finally has worked out pretty good. It was a pretty solid week and I’m pretty happy with it."
Moriya was inspired by the success her sister found on Tour. As Ariya kept winning, Moriya kept improving. Over the last three years, Moriya posted 16 of her 21 career top 10s on the LPGA Tour, including three runner-up finishes. She learned from each close call and successfully employed the teachings of Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of Vision54, who work with both Jutanugarn sisters on their mental game. Patience was a key Moriya kept pointing to throughout the week. It ultimately led to her success on Sunday as she minimized mistakes while her challengers stumbled.
"[I had] alot of patience out there, and finally my week come true."
Park Back On Top
For the second consecutive week, putting woes plagued Inbee Park and ultimately cost her a win on the LPGA Tour. But a nice consolation should come with knowing she’s projected to return to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings with her solid finish in Los Angeles. The current world No. 3 needed to finish in the top 6 to return to the top of the rankings, depending on how current No. 1 Shanshan Feng finished for the week. Park’s finish at T2 and Feng’s T12 finish, puts Park in position to regain the top spot.
Park spent a total of 92 weeks as world No. 1 during three different stretches between 2013 and 2015. Five players have held the No. 1 ranking since Park lost the top spot in October 2015.
Ryu Records Best Finish of 2018
It’s been an up and down year for So Yeon Ryu, who enjoyed one of the few high points this week in Los Angeles. The two-time major champion posted her best finish of the year at this week’s HUGEL-JTBC LA Open where she finished fourth for her second top 10 of the year.
Ryu was disappointed with her start to 2018, but she was bound to have high expectations after all she achieved last season. She became Rolex Rankings world No. 1 for the first time in her career, won multiple times, including a major championship, and took home co-Player of the Year honors. So, to start the season with only one top 10 was a let-down for the Korean who has spent the last several weeks looking for a way to turn her season around.
“My expectation level was way too high,” said Ryu. “Then I was to harsh on me. When you have one miss shot or one bad putt I start to talk myself like, ‘Why did you miss it? Why couldn't you playing well?’”
There was nothing wrong with Ryu’s swing. The problem, as is the case for many golfers, lies between the ears. A quick call to her instructor, Cameron McCormick, confirmed what she expected. She was just overthinking it.
“I just talked to him like, ‘You know what? I'm just going to forget about the technique. I'm just going to feel what I feel and just going to trust myself,” Ryu said. “He was like, ‘Yeah. I saw your swing. Your swing is really great. All you need to do is just trust yourself.’”
That renewed belief spurred her to the low round of the week with a 6-under par, 65 on Friday. While she isn't taking home the trophy this week, she's instead taking away a valuable lesson that can help her hoist another trophy later this season.
“I achieved a lot of great things last year,” said Ryu. “I just keep comparing that to this year. I should stop that.”
See How Moriya Won on Sunday
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