Ariya Jutanugarn wins US Women’s Open despite seven-shot collapse

01:50 - Source: CNN
Ariya Jutanugarn: 'I want to be the best'

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Ariya Jutanugarn wins US Women's Open

Jutanugarn surrenders seven-shot lead in final round

But Thai golfer recovers to beat Hyo-Joo Kim in playoff

CNN —  

Heading into the back nine at the US Women’s Open with a seven-shot lead, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn briefly appeared in danger of emulating the great Arnold Palmer for all the wrong reasons.

Palmer collapsed in spectacular fashion at the US Open in 1966, surrendering a seemingly unassailable advantage before losing a playoff to eventual champion Billy Casper.

This weekend at the Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club, Jutanugarn did no such thing.

What might have been the most difficult day of the 22-year-old’s career ended with her winning Sunday’s playoff against Hyo-Joo Kim and walking away $900,000 richer with a second major title.

Jutanugarn kisses the US Women's Open trophy after surviving one of the scares of her career.
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Jutanugarn kisses the US Women's Open trophy after surviving one of the scares of her career.

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She certainly didn’t make it easy for herself.

“It was really tough for because I played my front nine so good and my back nine not very good,” Jutanugarn told CNN, after a triple bogey on the 10th kick started an almost terminal collapse.

“It was tough because I started thinking about the outcome and tried to play good. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen because I was thinking about the outcome too much.”

Jutanugarn admitted in her press conference she’d been aware of the scoreboard, “scared” and too “uncomfortable” to hit a three wood. Meanwhile Kim was closing the gap. Fast.

The South Korean, who shot a major record 61 at the 2014 Evian Championship, steadily chipped away at Jutanugarn’s lead, ending the round as the only player with a blemish-free scorecard.

The Thai, by contrast, made further bogeys on the 12th, 17th and 18th. A playoff awaited.

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The key to success? Smiling

Having worked with mental coach in Thailand for around two years, a positive mindset was the key to Jutanugarn’s subsequent victory, secured after the fourth playoff hole.

“Honestly I tried to smile,” she said. “I thought if I kept doing that it was going to make me happy. I tried hard to do that.

01:32 - Source: CNN
Golf and Jason? Ariya Jutanugarn's perfect day

“After you have a seven-shot lead and have to go to a playoff, you kind of have no expectation. I got mad a little bit about what happened in my back nine, but I decided I’d just make sure I’d do my best to every shot.

“Because I felt disappointed already, I didn’t think about the outcome. It just felt like a last chance to make myself proud. I just took the shot in front of me.”

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