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Golf - 29. July 2018.

IT’S ALL ABOUT ARIYA: JUTANUGARN RULES THE LINKS!

Thailand will have a new world number one when the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are released on Monday, after Ariya Jutanugarn conquered rainy conditions to win the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, at Gullane Golf Club, in East Lothian.

Jutanugarn first held the world number one position, for two weeks, in June 2017 and she will resume that position after earning her 11th professional victory on Sunday evening, which was her first on a links golf course.

Reflecting on her performance, she said: “I had so much fun. I didn’t expect to win the tournament, because it’s a links course.”

The 22-year-old from Bangkok fired a final round of 66 to finish on 13-under-par, a stroke ahead of Minjee Lee from Australia, but Lee missed an unbelievable birdie chance to force a play-off on the par-4 18th.

Jutanugarn’s wild shot from the 18th tee went left into the long grass and she played her second shot out across the fairway, but she then produced a beautifully judged chip up to within four feet of the hole and rolled in the putt for a par, to clinch the title, worth 192,415 euros, or $225,000. She has now earned $2,022,765 this season and more than $6,606,097 for her career.

Since winning her first professional title as a rookie in the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco in 2013, Jutanugarn has won 10 LPGA titles, including her second Major at this year’s US Women’s Open. She said that her third LET title in Scotland, the Home of Golf, holds a special meaning for her.

“It means a lot to me to win the tournament. I told my caddie this week, you know, what I really want is to win on a links course, just one time in my life would be good, so right now my dream has come true.”

She showed patience throughout the four rounds, played in extremely varied weather conditions, from glorious sunshine for the first two days to strong winds on Saturday and heavy rain showers on Sunday.

Jin-young Ko and Haeji Kang tied for third position on eight-under-par, while Carlota Ciganda and Amy Yang tied for sixth place on seven-under-par.

Ciganda, from Spain, was the only player in the field to have shot under par for each round of the championship and she finished with a 69.

She said: “I’m happy the way I played. I always enjoy playing here in the U.K. I think it’s a good week to prepare for The Open for next week. I’m happy the way I played and excited for next week. You can get four seasons in one day here. We had great weather the first two days.”

There was more than just the trophy at stake as the leading three Ladies European Tour members not already exempt qualified for next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, to be held at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England. They were Lee-Anne Pace, who tied for eighth place and Nuria Iturrios and Cheyenne Woods, who tied for 35th.

Jutanugarn won the 2016 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn and is now feeling confident about her chances of claiming a third major. She said: “I feel a lot better about links courses, so I hope I’m going to be able to bring my A Game next week.”

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