Worth the Wait
After waiting six years, Moriya Jutanugarn is finally a winner on the LPGA Tour. In her 156th start, Jutanugarn won the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open for her first victory on Tour.
On the final day, Jutanugarn played calm and cool like a grizzled veteran. Any moves from playing partners Jin Young Ko, a standout rookie on Tour, or Hall of Famer Inbee Park, did nothing to ruffle Jutanugarn’s composure as she extended her lead to as many as three over the closing stretch. She posted a final round 3-under par, 68 to win by two strokes ahead of her playing partners. Watching from behind the 18th green was her sister, Ariya, who was overcome with emotion at the sight of seeing her older sister get her first win on Tour. After the final putt dropped, the sisters shared a long hug, both with tears flowing.
“That was great,” Jutanugarn said about seeing her family looking on. “Always good, the support from them. I think they actually crying more than me. I know they been so exciting. Of course, I been nervous, but they cry more than me.”
With her victory, the Thai becomes the ninth different winner on the LPGA Tour this season from the fifth different country. The 2017 season started much the same with 15 different winners to start the season before So Yeon Ryu won in Arkansas to become the first repeat winner, having also captured the 2017 ANA Inspiration.
There was no rest for the champion, who hopped a red eye to San Francisco for this week’s event.
“I’ve been really close for a lot of times, and of course that builds confidence as well,” Jutanugarn said. “To win, it's just like I kind of break through a lot of things that I been kind of get stuck, and it just feels great.”
It’s Good To Be Inbee
The Rolex Rankings aren’t on her radar. Returning to world No. 1 wasn’t a goal this year. And yet, Inbee Park earned it.
Monday, Park is projected to assume the world No. 1 ranking for the fourth time in her career. She held the top spot on three different occasions between 2013 and 2015 for a total of 92 weeks. She last held the No. 1 ranking in October 2015. But she was never far from the top. Ironically, Park’s lowest ranking over the last three was just six weeks ago when she dropped to No. 19. Since then, Park won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, finished T18 at the Kia Classic and over the last three weeks hasn’t finished outside the top 3.
“It’s good to be back, obviously, in the No. 1 spot,” Park said. “The rankings are so close together. It can change every week. It's just hard to keep track. I'm just trying to play golf and doesn't matter where I am at. But if I can get back to No. 1 spot, that's good.”
One For the Record Books
Winning for the first time after six years on Tour would be special for any player, but Moriya’s victory took on a historic meaning as well. With her win on Sunday, Thai sisters Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn, joined Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the only sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.
“It means a lot,” Jutanugarn said about joining the Sorenstams. “Annika is one of my favorite players as well, and when she out here she been like playing super strong. I grow up and watch her play.”
Ariya has seven victories on the LPGA Tour, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open, where she made history of her own as the first player from Thailand, male or female, to win one of golf’s major championships. Annika had 72 victories on the LPGA Tour. Charlotta’s lone victory came at the 2000 Standard Register Ping, where Annika shot 59 the following year.
Moriya Jutanugarn's Third Round Hole Out For Eagle