Jutanugarn recovers to win U.S. Women's Open in playoff
07 June, 2018, 11:13 | Author: Sylvester Abbott
Sarah Jane Smith has a three-shot lead entering the third round of the US Women's Open. That Jutanugarn steadied herself to emerge victorious from a sudden death play-off with Kim Hyo-joo points towards formidable mental strength. Even Smith, who shot a 74 to fall back to second place, was impressed by Jutanugarn's relentless surge. "So we had a really good lesson before Kingsmill (two weeks ago) and then I actually missed the cut but felt like I played really well". She hits it a long way, but her short game is impeccable. "She played great that whole week but this is something totally different". Could Lexi Thompson win her first U.S. Women's Open?
She cited victory in her last two play-offs as cause for confidence.
Jutanugarn fired a one-over 73 at the Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club in Alabama to finish at 11 under, with Kim (67) joining her.
In the final round, Jutanugarn went out in 32 thanks to five birdies and a bogey, putting her at 16-under, seven better than Kim, who had three birdies on her front nine.
"I'm going to sleep well tonight", said the world number five, who is aiming to win her second major.
Smith started the tournament with back-to-back 67s, but didn't make a birdie in the third round.
"I haven't been in the position before, I but I hope to show up like it's another day", Smith said.
Jutanugarn now holds a four-shot lead over Hyo Joo Kim.
Jutanugarn didn't seem to mind, finishing with a 70 in the morning. She birdied the first extra hole, No. 14, while Jutanugarn made a par. Jutanugarn had applauded for several of Kim's fine strokes, but she deserved a standing-O for this sand shot. So it's nice to be able to feel like I'm seeing the greens really well and seeing some putts go in. But Kim made bogey - her first of the day - on 18 while Jutanugarn made par again to send the format to sudden death.
The outcome no one wanted to imagine after Jutanugarn built a seven-stroke lead after the front nine looked as if it was in deep plot development, inoculated from the best pre-shot routine any mental coach has ever prescribed.
She won the Lotte Championship this year and has two previous top 10 finishes in the US Women's Open.
"After you have a seven-shot lead and end up with you having to go to a playoff, I had no expectations", she said.
Two-time victor Inbee Park has an outside chance at getting back in contention.
Her final round was her second-best of the tournament behind her 71 on the first day but it has left her languishing back in a five-way tie for 48th place. "Pretty hard, but I still can see the shot".
The USGA says Henderson pulled out before Friday's second round at Shoal Creek (Saturday, Manila time).
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