Calmer Ariya claims second LPGA win

Ariya Jutanugarn is doused with water after winning the Kingsmill Championship. She became the first Thai to win on the LPGA Tour the previous week following her win in Alabama.
Ariya Jutanugarn is doused with water after winning the Kingsmill Championship. She became the first Thai to win on the LPGA Tour the previous week following her win in Alabama. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WILLIAMSBURG (Virginia) • Ariya Jutanugarn posted a second successive LPGA victory when she edged out Australian Su Oh by one stroke at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia on Sunday.

Ariya had blown a series of good winning chances until she broke through and claimed the LPGA Classic in Alabama two weeks ago to become the first Thai to win on tour.

Bristling with confidence, she followed up with an encore victory on the River Course at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg.

Her second win, the 20-year-old said, was "much easier" than her first, though it was not exactly a stroll in the park.

She sank a four-foot putt at the 17th to preserve her tenuous lead and then had to sweat over a five-foot par putt at the last to avoid a play-off.

She coaxed it home to card four-under 67 and finished at 270, while Oh (65) birdied the last with a 20-foot putt from off the back off the green to claim second place on 13 under, a day before her 20th birthday.

Ariya, whose older sister Moriya, 21, also plays on the LPGA Tour, continued the youth movement. All 13 LPGA tournaments this year have been won by players aged 23 or younger.

She admitted to feeling almost unbearable tension before her first victory, but was calmer on Sunday.

She said: "I didn't get nervous or excited until the last putt. My hands were shaking, but just a little bit, not like last tournament. Last tournament was so bad.

"I really wanted to win one tournament this year, and after I do that, I feel like I'm just going to take it and have fun."

Runner-up Oh, whose first win came in February last year in only her second pro event when she captured the Ladies Masters in Australia, had few complaints: "I knew I had to get off to a really good start, and I did."

South Korea's Kim Sei Young and American Gerina Piller shared third on 272 after each closed with matching 66s.

Ariya said she hopes her triumphs will spark more Thai golfers and inspire others from her homeland to seek LPGA success.

"Right now we have a lot of players starting to play golf, a lot of juniors, and if I can inspire somebody, it's really great," she said. "I hope a lot of players come to the LPGA."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Calmer Ariya claims second LPGA win'. Print Edition | Subscribe