Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn paid tribute to her caddie Les Luark for helping her survive a back nine meltdown en route to winning the US Women’s Open on Sunday.
Jutanugarn, 22, squandered a seven-shot lead with nine holes to play at Shoal Creek, raising concerns of a repeat of previous late capitulations in the 2013 Honda LPGA Thailand and 2016 Ana Inspration. The slide started when she hit her tee-shot into the hazard on the right at the par-four 10th, resulting in a triple bogey. The Thai dropped further shots on 12, 17 and 18 against just one birdie at 16 for a closing 73, allowing Korea’s Kim Hyo Joo – who finished with 67 thanks to some amazing putting – to tie her on 11-under-par.
“He [Luark] did a lot of good things today, especially after I make seven. When I teed off on 11, I asked him, “I don’t know how to hit this one.” He’s like, “Come on, do you want to win?” and I’m like, “Yes!” He said, “Okay. Then we have to do it.”,” shared Jutanugarn, who edged Kim on the fourth extra hole in the new two-hole aggregate playoff format.
“On 10, I just didn’t feel comfortable to hit 3-wood and honestly I shouldn’t have … but I did. Even on 18 in the playoff I asked Les, “Should I try to hit 3-wood?”. He’s like, “If you ask me this question you shouldn’t try! Keep hitting 2-iron.”,” she added.
Jutanugarn’s second Major win moved her up three rungs up the Rolex World Rankings to No 2, one shy of the top spot she held for two weeks in mid-2017.