Moriya Jutanugarn Claims LPGA LA Tourney For 1st Tour Win
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2018-04-23
Moriya Jutanugarn Kisses Her Trophy After Winning The HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES, California (Beth Harris/AP) — Moriya Jutanugarn knows patience. She’s had ample time to learn it while pursuing her first victory on the LPGA Tour.
Jutanugarn broke through in her sixth year, winning the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open by two shots to make her and sister Ariya the second set of siblings to win on the tour.
“I just work on what I have to do and just be patient,” said Jutanugarn, who was the picture of calm while her sister and mother got emotional.
“They actually cried more than me,” she said. “It was great. I’m always feeling the support from them.”
The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour’s return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.
Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.
“I feel like not only her reach her goal, but I feel like our family reach our goal,” Ariya said. “She inspire me a lot to be patient.”
Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister’s final holes, biting her nails, covering her mouth and finally crying as Moriya two-putted to close it out.
“I was really nervous,” Ariya said. “I know she can do it, but I was just rooting for her so much.”
Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.
The Thai sisters are 16 months apart, and don’t enjoy comparisons to each other.
“I have my own way to do things and she has her own way,” Moriya said.
Ariya added, “We never compare each other. We just know we going to do our best and try our hardest.”
Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).
Park had opportunities, but she wasn’t able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing together in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world in Monday’s rankings, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.
“That really wasn’t my goal playing this year; just came as present, so it’s great,” Park said.
So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.
Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.
She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.
Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.
Jutanugarn’s threesome had to wait on 17 for a while, giving her time to think about the finish.
“I changed my focus to something else and when I have to hit the ball I kind of bring it back,” she said. “I don’t want to be going crazy with what’s going on the last hole.”
Ko’s tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the cup, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn’s lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.
But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie bid came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.
“LPGA, they throw water a lot, but I don’t know if it’s this much,” Jutanugarn said.