Ariya wants Major after securing hat-trick

Thai star Ariya Jutanugarn acknowledging fans after making her putt on the fourth green in the final round, in which she carded a 67 to win the Volvik Championship by five shots.
Thai star Ariya Jutanugarn acknowledging fans after making her putt on the fourth green in the final round, in which she carded a 67 to win the Volvik Championship by five shots. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHICAGO • Red-hot Thai Ariya Jutanugarn won her third consecutive LPGA title on Sunday, firing a final-round five-under 67 to win the inaugural Volvik Championship by five strokes over American Christina Kim.

The 20-year-old from Bangkok became the first golfer to capture her first three LPGA crowns consecutively, pushing within two of the tour-record win streak of five events by Sweden's Annika Sorenstam and American Nancy Lopez.

She was the first Thai to win an LPGA title when she took the Yokohama Tire Classic in Alabama earlier this month and added the Kingsmill Championship last week.

"It feels easier," she said. "I got a little bit excited before this crowd but I just decided I would do what is under my control."

Ariya, nicknamed "May" in her homeland after sweeping the LPGA events in May, is the first to win three tour events in a row since South Korean Park In Bee in 2013.

She will skip next week's Shoprite LPGA Classic to focus on the year's second Major tournament, the Women's PGA Championship at Sammamish, Washington, from June 9 to 12.

"To be honest, my goal is I really want to win my first Major," Ariya said.

Asked what she will do on her week off, she replied matter of factly - "practise harder."

Ariya finished 72 holes at Ann Arbor, Michigan, on 15-under 273, putting her at a combined 43-under par for her past 12 rounds.

Kim was second on 278 after a closing 71, with Canada's Brooke Henderson (68) and American Jessica Korda (72) sharing third on 279, and Spain's Belen Mozo (70) fifth on 280.

Korda was paired with Ariya in Sunday's final group and marvelled at the Thai star's performance.

"It was great. I'm speechless. That was amazing. I didn't see five-under there when we started the day," she said. "Honestly, she putted so well today. It wasn't easy, greens were a little bit bumpy. She made it look so easy."

Ariya birdied the par-five sixth and finished with a flourish in her third bogey-free round of the week, sealing her triumph with back-to-back birdies at the par-four 13th and par-five 14th, plus the par-three 16th and par-four 17th.

"When I (first) see the course, I just feel like it's really hard for me because I can't hit my driver and I really have to have a good game plan," she said.

"So to be honest, first time I see it, I think this course is hard and I don't think I'm going to win."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Ariya wants Major after securing hat-trick'. Print Edition | Subscribe