Sports / Golf

Thai drives into history books

By Associated Press in Milton Keynes, England (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-02 08:01

Thai drives into history books

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn celebrates after sinking her putt to win the Women's British Open at Woburn, England, on Sunday. Steve Paston / PA via AP

Ariya Jutanugarn's six-stroke lead was whittled down to one after a double bogey on the par-4 13th at Woburn on Sunday, but the 20-year-old held on to win the Women's British Open and become Thailand's first winner of a major.

"I think everything in the past is good for me, because I learned a lot from that," Jutanugarn said.

"I know how to come back. I know how to be patient. Everybody has to go through bad times in their life, and I think I have done that already."

Jutanugarn finished at 16-under 272 on the Marquess Course, the hilly, forest layout that is a big change from the usual seaside layouts in the tournament rotation.

She left her driver in her locker, opting to hammer a 3-wood or 2-iron off the tee.

"The driver is in my locker ... I hope nobody steals it," she said.

Jutanugarn played the final five holes in 1-under for an even-par 72 and a three-stroke victory over American Mo Martin and South Korea's Mirim Lee.

In April at the ANA in the California desert, Jutanugarn - at the time, best known for blowing a two-stroke lead with a closing triple bogey at age 17 in the 2013 LPGA Thailand - bogeyed the final three holes to hand the major to Lydia Ko.

"After ANA, I was really nervous," Jutanugarn said. "But I'm pretty sure I learned a lot from that, because I know what I have to do. On the last few holes here I tried to be patient and to commit to my shots."

Jutanugarn rebounded in a breakthrough May, running off the three straight victories to become the LPGA Tour's first Thai champion. Now, she's also her country's first major winner.

"I think it's really important for me and for Thai golf, also," Jutanugarn said. "After my first tournament on tour, my goal was to win a major. Now I have done that, so I'm very proud of myself."

Jutanugarn had a six-stroke lead over Lee at the turn, but Lee picked up five strokes on the next four holes with three straight birdies and Jutanugarn's double bogey at 13.

"I think I got mad after that hole," Jutanugarn said. "I'm like, 'Oh, what's wrong with me?" But after that, I was really patient and I came back really good."

Jutanugarn made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th to take a two-shot advantage to the final hole.

After opening with rounds of 65 and 69, Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 66 on Saturday to pull two strokes ahead of Lee and break the tournament 54-hole record of 201.

Jutanugarn is projected to jump from No 6 to No 3 in the world rankings this week. A year ago, she was No 52.

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