Moriya Jutanugarn has received a few texts from friends and family since coming back to her home country for the Honda LPGA Thailand. “Everyone is really exciting to come. Even my friends keep texting me, ‘Can I go? Can I go?’ No. Sorry. But that's how much people like this tournament,” said Jutanugarn, who along with her sister Ariya are back competing as two of the 10 Thai natives in the field this week.
This is Jutanugarn’s 11th time competing at the Siam Country Club. Since 2009, Jutanugarn has recorded three top-10 finishes, including a runner-up performance in 2018. Though there won’t be fans at this year’s event, the 26-year-old still feels the support from afar.
“This tournament is one of the favorite tournaments for me and probably for other girls on tour. I mean, you know, like this event always had a lot of really good feedback from Thai fans, and they always waiting for the Honda LPGA to come and to have a tournament,” said Jutanugarn. “We always have very good fans here, like lots of people come out and they get very exciting. It's kind of very miss that moment, and of course it's just like because it's like my home country so it's a lot more, you know, like -- a lot of good energy, so it's like really miss that.”
Jutanugarn said she recognizes the importance of how this tournament has not only shaped her golf career, but has also shaped golf in Thailand. For instance, at 18, Jutanugarn remembers playing in the event as a newly minted LPGA Tour rookie among roaring hometown crowds, just a few months after earning co-medalist honors at the 2012 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. She’s certainly grown as a player since then, becoming a Tour winner in 2018, and she’s seen the impact of the event on audiences around her native country.
“Because I played since I am like playing junior golf like a major and now I'm turning pro, I felt like since then we got a lot more players out on LPGA, and of course in Thailand a lot more girls interesting in golf. A lot more people think golf is not so far like to wish or not to -- feels like they more enjoyable to play and they -- I don't know, feels like when I was younger lots of people think golf is more older people sport; it's kind of boring,” said Jutanugarn. “Now everything I think it's very exciting, it's more enjoyable and you can spend time with family and friends and also there is a -- if you play good to get on a tour, and I think that's why how we have a lot more players and a lot more younger players.”
Jutanugarn will start the day at 9:36 a.m. off No. 1 with fellow Tour winners Nasa Hataoka and Charley Hull.