Thai sisters bond over Moriya's maiden victory

The LA Open win is Moriya Jutanugarn's first LPGA Tour title after 156 starts.
The LA Open win is Moriya Jutanugarn's first LPGA Tour title after 156 starts.

LOS ANGELES • Standing at the side of the 18th green at Wilshire Country Club on Sunday, Ariya Jutanugarn could not bear to watch as older sister Moriya battled to hold off Ko Jin Young of South Korea.

When it all ended and Moriya finally joined her in the winner's circle, closing with a three-under 68 to capture the LA Open, she sobbed in the arms of their mother.

"It's amazing," Ariya, 22, said.

"I mean, to me, I feel like not only did she reach her goal, but I feel like our family reached our goal."

The 23-year-old Moriya's two-stroke victory - her first LPGA Tour win - means that the Thai siblings join Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the only sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Moriya was at a loss for words as she celebrated the win with her family members and friends.

"My sister is crying more than me," said Moriya as she wiped tears of joy. "I can't tell you what I feel right now."

Former world No. 1 Ariya has made headlines with her results in the past two years, becoming the first player from Thailand to win a Major championship when she claimed the 2016 British Open.

On Sunday, she watched the final putt drop from just off the green as she stood with her arm around their mother. When Moriya sank her putt to reach a 12-under 272 total, Ariya skipped onto the green and shared a long emotional hug with her sister.

"It feels great," added Moriya.

"I had a lot of patience out there. Finally my week comes through. I had a pretty solid weekend and I am pretty happy with that."

Park In Bee, who returned to the No. 1 ranking in the world yesterday, shot a 68 to finish in a tie with fellow Korean Ko, who had a 70.

Ryu So Yeon (68) finished alone in fourth at seven-under 277. Ji Eun Hee shot a 71 and was tied for fifth with Emma Talley (67), as four of the top six players were from South Korea to the delight of the large Korean expat crowd that was in attendance.

But the day belonged to Moriya, who won on her 156th start. She turned up the heat on the back nine, making birdies on four holes beginning at the par-three 12th.

Her only blemish of the day was a bogey on 16th, but she recovered to par the final two holes.

Seven-time Major champion Park jumped from third place to overtake China's Feng Shanshan, whose reign lasted 23 weeks, as No. 1.

"It's good to be back, obviously, in No. 1 spot," said Park, who has had to overcome hand and back injuries over the last couple of seasons.

"I'm just trying to play golf, and it doesn't matter where I am at."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2018, with the headline 'Thai sisters bond over Moriya's maiden victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe