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Jutanugarn survives meltdown to win U.S. Women's Open
Ariya Jutanugarn overcame a disastrous back-nine meltdown to win the U.S. Women's Open in a playoff with Hyo-Joo Kim at Shoal Creek.
What happened at the U.S. Women’s Open?
It’s hard to really describe what happened at Shoal Creek on Sunday afternoon.
Ariya Jutanugarn must have felt every possible emotion. When she opened up a seven-shot lead after nine holes, the Thai star would have been feeling at ease while seemingly cruising to her second major title.
But then came the triple bogey at the 10th hole. And then the bogey at the 12th. South Korea’s Hyo-Joo Kim – already a major champion at the 2014 Evian Championship – was making everything she looked at on the greens and was starting to breach the gap.
Three straight pars and a majestic birdie at the par-3 16th steadied Jutanugarn’s ship, but a disastrous bogey at the par-5 17th meant she’d head to the 18th tee with just a one-shot lead over Kim.
Standing in the middle of the 18th fairway, Jutanugarn’s caddie gave the call: “You can be aggressive”.
An eight-iron from over 170 yards away was all over the flag but came up short in the greenside bunker. The resulting bunker shot gave her too much work to do for par.
She’d settle for a bogey and head to a playoff with Kim. The disastrous collapse was all but complete. Jutanugarn bogeyed the first while Kim parred. On the second, Jutanugarn flew the green but made a lovely up-and-down for par. Kim came up short in the bunker and made bogey. The two players were tied after the two-hole aggregate playoff, and they’d head to sudden death.
Another ridiculous sand save for par from Jutanugarn followed at the first sudden death hole, and the two would then head to the 18th hole again.
Both players found greenside bunkers and it was down to another short game competition. Kim, who had been excellent all day around the greens, came up well short and was facing a lengthy 15-footer for par. Jutanugarn splashed out to tap-in range, and Kim couldn’t make the putt.
Jutanugarn tapped in to win the biggest tournament in women’s golf: the U.S. Women’s Open. From delight, to anxiety, to disaster, to jubilance. Jutanugarn would have experienced every emotion. It’s the sign of a true champion to pull through in such adverse circumstances.
It’s her second major championship, and who would be surprised to see her add to that tally in the following three majors this year?
“It’s always up and down in my life. I just try not to have too much expectation.”