Ariya Jutanugarn holds on for first major win
Ariya Jutanugarn entered the Women’s British open with three victories this season, the most recent coming at the Volvik Championship in May. While on the brink of breaking through with a major, Jutanugarn has come up short, finishing third at the Women’s PGA, fourth at the ANA Inspiration and 17th at the U.S. Open this season.
Jutanugarn started strong this week, opening with a round of 65. Following rounds of 69 and 66, she put herself in prime position to claim her first career major at the age of 20. Lurking at just two shots back was Mirim Lee. Mo Martin was five shots behind, while Catriona Matthew and Stacy Lewis were six and seven shots back, respectively.
The gap between Ariya Jutanugarn and Mirim Lee grew when Lee bogeyed two and four, while Jutanugarn birdied two and eight. Mo Martin stayed in the mix and surpassed Lee with a two under par front to sit at thirteen under par, thee shots behind Jutanugarn.
Lee cut into the lead quickly on the back nine with three consecutive birdies, while Ariya Jutanugarn started to struggle, posting a double bogey on thirteen. The lead was now one of Lee and two over Mo Martin. Feeling the pressure of Sunday a a major, none of the top three made birdie on 14, 15 or 16. Lee stayed in the mix after a brilliant par on 16 after an errand tee shot required a pitch back to the fairway. Heading to the 17th, Jutanugarn held a slim one shot lead over Lee. After a solid tee shot on the par 3, Ariya Jutanugarn was faced with about a 17 foot putt that broke left to right. After a beautiful stroke and roll, the ball found the bottom of the cup, giving her a two shot advantage heading to the final hole.
A routine par on 18 gave Jutanugarn her fourth career LPGA victory and first major championship. Lee and Martin finished three shots back and tied for second. Stacy Lewis completed a solid week with a 70 and finished at 11-under par. Forty-plus year old veterans Karrie Webb and Catriona Matthew finished tied with Ha Na Jang another shot back at 10-under par.
Several top players will head to Rio for the Olympic games. The LPGA tour resumes play on August 25 at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.