Ariya close to landing first Major for the land of smiles

WOBURN (England) • Ariya Jutanugarn, a 20-year-old from Thailand, will have another chance to claim a first golf Major title for her country in the final round of the women's British Open.

At the first Major of the season, the ANA Inspiration, she led by two strokes with three holes to play but made bogeys on the lot.

It did not take her long to learn how to win and her first victory in the United States in May was followed immediately by two more in the next two weeks.

At Woburn on Saturday, she produced the round of the third day with a six-under 66.

With a 200 total, a 54-hole record for the championship, she nipped two strokes ahead of the overnight leader Lee Mi Rim, who carded a 69. American Mo Martin (69) was third on 205.

The Thai took the tournament by the scruff of the neck with birdies on the second, third, fifth and eighth holes before making further inroads on par at the 10th and 14th.

Asked about her unusual pre-shot routine of smiling, she said: "I really want to try to feel relaxed and I feel like whatever is going to make me happy is to smile."

Ariya, who has not used her driver all week at the relatively short 6,448-yard Marquess Course at Woburn, said she is now aware of how to play under pressure.

"The only thing I have to do is focus on what is under my control," said the world No. 6.

"I don't think it is pressure for me leading the championship."

World No. 1 Lydia Ko was down the field on 213 despite a 69.

The New Zealander looked as if she might launch a charge with six birdies in nine holes from the eighth but a double-bogey at the last stopped her in her tracks.

"I hit a really wayward tee shot," said Ko after losing her ball at the 18th.

"It's tough to finish like that. The best cure for a double-bogey is a toffee, or sugar, any type of sugar; I love my chocolate," she said with a laugh.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2016, with the headline 'Ariya close to landing first Major for the land of smiles'. Print Edition | Subscribe