FORMER WORLD No 1 Ariya Jutanugarn is back competing in the $1.6–million LPGA Thailand this weekend, at at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course which has given her bitter-sweet memories.
As an 11-year-old, Ariya qualified for the 2007 event, becoming the youngest woman to ever to play an LPGA event back then. From then on she has never missed Thailand’s top women’s tournament and is how in her 11th attempt in Chon Buri.
Aged 17 in 2013, however, she was within a whisker of becoming the first Thai to ever win the tournament, holding a two-stroke advantage over South Korean Inbee Park heading into the final hole before carding a triple-bogey and having to settle for second.
Now, with seven LPGA wins, she has put all that behind and is looking forward to joy as she tees off tomorrow with five other Thais.
“I’m always excited every time I come back to play at home and this will be my 11th time here. I don’t want to set a particular goal this week but to go out there and have fun,” said the 22-year-old Ariya, who finished seventh in the Women’s Australian Open last week.
“There will be a lot of Thai fans coming to support me and hope to have a good week. I just have to go out there and commit to what I have to do,” added Ariya, who also has one Major win to her credit, the 2016 British Open. The hilly par-72 6,576 yard layout can be tricky, with its sloping
greens also making life tough for those wayward with their approaches.
‘”You have to know the greens well. There are a lot of slopes on the greens. So you have to be careful where you hit,” added the current world No 7, who will be joined this week by the world’s
top three: Shan Shan Feng of China, Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu of South Korea.
Ariya plus defending champion Amy Yang of South Korea and two wildcard receivers – Saranporn
Langkulgasettrin from Phuket and Ha Neul Kim of South Korea – took part in a promotional activity at Wat Khao Pho Thong School in Chonburi yesterday morning.
The foursome helped to paint the school’s Brain-Based Learning Playground and provided free lunch
and scholarships for the pupils.
Later in the day, Ariya sister’s Moriya, Supapas Sangchan, Canadian Brooke M. Henderson, Chinese Muni He, American Alison Lee, and South Korea’s Bo Mee Lee took part in the traditional photoshoot in Thai costumes.