CAREER SEASON CONTINUES FOR JUTANUGARN
The accolades keep coming for Ariya Jutanugarn. On Monday, the 22-year old from Bangkok, Thailand, rose to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for the third time in her career. The following day, the LPGA announced that she had clinched Rolex Player of the Year honors with three events remaining in the season. This marks the second time Jutanugarn has earned the award bestowed upon the season’s best player, joining her five-win season of 2016.
“I have a great season so far,” said Jutanugarn, who has three wins in 2018. “I’m just really happy about that because Rolex Player of the Year is one of the biggest ones. This is my second time, so I’m really honored to join the list again.”
Jutanugarn pointed to her playoff victory at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open as the high point of her year.
“I reached my goal – I won the U.S. Open,” said Jutanugarn, who survived a four-hole playoff with Hyo Joo Kim that instantly became one of the iconic moments in championship history. “One of my goals when I was young – this was one of the hardest ones to win and then I won this year.”
MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY FOR KO AND HIGA
When Lydia Ko saw her first-round grouping, her mind immediately went back to August and the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She played the first two rounds with Japanese star Mamiko Higa, and the 21-year-old New Zealander spent two days marveling at Higa’s short-game skills.
“I was thinking that Mamiko was one of the best short-game players I’ve played with, especially her putting. The days I played with her, it was so impressive,” said Ko, who tees off on Friday at 9:14 a.m. with Higa and In Gee Chun. “It was so impressive to see, holing it from par putts to birdie putts, short putts to long putts. It was one of the best putting performances I had seen in the years that I’ve been on Tour.”
It turns out Higa said much the same about Ko, who laughed heartily when told by a Japanese journalist that Higa had spoken highly of Ko’s performance in England.
“I’m very thankful that she said very nice things about me, but I thought her game was so impressive,” said Ko. “She’s having a great season, and I can see that she was playing with a lot of confidence.”
LPGA HISTORY AT SETA GOLF CLUB
This week marks the 43rd playing of the TOTO Japan Classic (NOTE: previous notes called this the 42nd playing) and the 11th time the tournament will be conducted at Seta Golf Club in Shiga, located on the shores of Lake Biwa and just 13 miles from Kyoto.
Seta Golf Club has notched its name multiple times in the LPGA Record Books:
The 11 tournaments held here is the most at a single course in tournament history, ahead of the 10 events held at Kashikojima Country Club
Annika Sorenstam set the tournament scoring record of 24-under 192 en route to victory in 2003
Sorenstam’s 192 is tied for the lowest 54-hole score in LPGA history; Sei Young Kim matched that mark during her win at the 2018 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
Sorenstam set the 18-hole scoring record of 9-under 63 during the first two rounds in 2003
Five other 63s have been returned at Seta Golf Club, coming from Sorenstam (first round, 2004), Chihiro Nakajima (first round, 2004), Michie Ohba (third round, 2004), Ai Miyazato (third round, 2004) and Young Kim (first round, 2005)
Sakura Yokomine (second round, 2011) and Shanshan Feng (second round, 2017) have also shot 63s at the TOTO Japan Classic