Miami - Ariya Jutanugarn survived a back-nine meltdown to
win the 73rd US Women's Open on Sunday and claim her second career major title
in a playoff.
Ariya frittered away a seven-shot lead with nine holes
remaining before parring the fourth playoff hole to edge South Korea's Kim
Hyo-joo and become the first player from Thailand to lift the trophy.
"I feel great," Ariya said. "I am really
excited. I'm really honoured to join the list of winners before me."
The 22-year-old from Bangkok parred all four playoff holes
at the Shoal Creek, Alabama course for her second win of the 2018 LPGA Tour
season to go with the Kingsmill Championship.
"After you have a seven-shot lead and end up with you
having to go to a playoff, I had no expectations," she said.
"If I have a playoff then I'm going to make sure I do
my best every shot because I felt like I didn't commit on the back nine. I felt
like I had a last chance to make myself proud."
She finished with a one-over par 73 and a 72-hole total of
South Korea's Kim closed with a five-under 67 to force the
playoff and had two long putts to win in the extra session but couldn't get
them to fall.
"I started off quite a few strokes behind the leader,
so I didn't really think that I was going to come through," Kim said.
Both parred the third playoff hole and they returned to the
par-four 18th, where Ariya's superb bunker shot left her with a tap in for the
"I have a lot of confidence in my bunker shots right
now," said Ariya, who also won the 2016 British Open.
She had appeared to be headed to victory hours earlier,
after a birdie at the ninth hole moved her to 16-under and a seven-stroke lead.
Ariya's collapse began with a triple bogey seven on number
10 and continued with a bogey at 12.
She carried the meltdown through with back-to-back bogeys on
17 and 18.
"On 10 I just didn't feel comfortable to hit the three
wood and honestly I shouldn't have hit the three wood, but I did. After that I
kinda played a little bit scared," she said.
She righted the ship in the playoff which went to a sudden
death format after the two-hole aggregate start failed to produce a winner.
Not only does Ariya become the first Thai to win a US
Women's Open title but she is the first champion from a country other than South
Korea or the US since Sweden's Annika Sorenstam in 2006.
Kim, chasing a second major title to go with her 2014 Evian
Championship, had five birdies in her bogey-free round.
"I feel very good about how I played, especially that I
did not have a bogey today in the final round. That, I am extremely happy
about," Kim said.
Spain's Carlota Ciganda shot a three-under 69 to finish
alone in third place, four strokes back of Kim and Ariya.
American Danielle Kang (69) was four shots back of Ciganda
in solo fourth.
Thailand's Patty Tavatanakit, Hsu Wei-Ling, of Taiwan, Sarah
Jane Smith of Australia and Lexi Thompson of the US tied for fifth at two-under
Leading final round scores on Sunday in the US Women's Open Golf Championship at Shoal Creek, Alabama (x-won in playoff. USA unless noted, a-denotes amateur, par 72):
277 - x-Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) 67-70-67-73, Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 70-72-68-67
281 - Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 73-68-71-69
285 - Danielle Kang 69-77-70-69
286 - Lexi Thompson 71-75-70-70, a-Patty Tavatanakit (THA) 70-73-72-71, Hsu Wei-Ling (TPE) 71-73-70-72, Sarah Jane Smith (AUS) 67-67-74-78
287 - Park In-bee (KOR) 70-71-71-75
288 - Michelle Wie 69-72-76-71, Charley Hull (ENG) 74-73-70-71, Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 74-70-72-72, Angela Stanford 73-72-71-72, Nelly Korda 70-74-71-73, Megan Khang 72-74-69-73, Kim Ji-hyun (KOR) 70-71-70-77
289 - Ko Jin-young (KOR) 75-73-71-70, Lizette Salas 74-73-71-71, Su Oh (AUS) 70-68-78-73, Lee Jeong-eun6 (KOR) 67-75-74-73, Ji Eun-hee (KOR) 73-72-70-74, Madelene Sagstrom (SWE) 70-72-70-77
290 - Ryu So-yeon (KOR) 73-70-72-75
291 - a-Albane Valenzuela (SUI) 72-73-71-75
292 - Jennifer Song 72-71-76-73, Brittany Lincicome 75-72-71-74
293 - Marina Alex 73-75-76-69, Choi Hye-jin (KOR) 71-76-76-70, a-Kristen Gillman 70-74-75-74, Teresa Lu 75-71-73-74, Kim Sei-young (KOR) 70-71-76-76, Jenny Shin 72-69-75-77, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) 72-71-73-77