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Written By: Radha Seth
Thailand: Ariya Jutanugarn finally got her hands on the Honda LPGA Thailand title after 14 years of trying on Sunday, beating compatriot Atthaya Thitikul by one stroke in a dramatic finish to the $1.6 million tournaments.
Ariya Jutanugarn rallies her 11th career win in her home country
It came down to the 72nd hole of the Honda LPGA Thailand. But before talking about the final hole, you have to begin before the 55th. Starting five strokes back of Patty Tavatanakit’s -18 lead, Ariya Jutanugarn turned to her mental coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott.
“Today is Pia's birthday, and I talked to them and I'm like, you know, I hit my iron like everywhere. I miss the putt. I mean, I feel so tough for me. What should I do?” said Jutanugarn. “They're just like, How about you just go out, have good commitment, and not thinking about the outcome. So can you do that for my birthday present? Okay, I will try harder.”
Jutanugarn, in the third-to-last grouping, did just that, recording three consecutive birdies in her opening holes, and closing the front nine with a 30 while hitting every green and fairway. “I want to say honestly (I felt confident) after the first hole, because, you know, like the green is pretty narrow 1st hole, and normally I'm going to be struggling to hit it on the green because I do not really have good commit,” said Jutanugarn. “I'm thinking about miss the shot, but somehow today I'm not thinking about miss the shot and I hit it so well on the green, two-putt, birdie. And the second hole I miss my second shot and make a long putt, and the third hole I hit it like this close. I'm like, you know what, today is going to be a good day because I just have to keep doing what I have to do, keep the commitment.”
Ariya Jutanugarn cherishing her win at the Honda LPGA 2021
Having hit the ninth birdie at the 18th hole to sign for a flawless 63, the 25-year-old Thai had a nervous wait in the clubhouse before her 11th LPGA title was confirmed as a thunderstorm forced a one-hour suspension of play. Atthaya, who had led by a shot with two holes to play, was the only one of the six players still on the course who could still catch Ariya -- a shot off the lead with her round paused on the 18th fairway.
After play resumed at the Siam Country Club, however, the teenager was only able to par the 18th for a 68 to fall one stroke short of Ariya's tally of 22-under 266. Former world number one Ariya, who made her debut at the tournament as an 11-year-old amateur in 2007, shed tears of joy as she became the first Thai to win the title.
"I've been waiting for so long and finally I got it so I'm really proud of myself," the twice major winner said after celebrating with her sister and fellow pro-Moriya. "Always very happy to be here."
Day 4 Leaderboard Honda LPGA Thailand 2021
Atthaya, 18, had looked on course for a maiden LPGA title until she three-putted the 17th for her only bogey just as Ariya was firing a brilliant five-iron into the 18th green to give herself a putt for an eagle. Ariya had to settle for a birdie but it proved just enough for victory at a tournament wherein 2013 she triple-bogeyed the last hole to blow a two-stroke lead and hand Inbee Park the title.
South Koreans Ryu So-Yeon and three-times tournament champion Amy Yang both shot fourth-round 64s to share third place with American Angel Yin (66) and overnight leader Patty Tavatanakit (70) on 20-under.
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