News about Ariya Jutanugarn
A Winning Formula
30 November 2017
Ariya finished up her roller coaster season the best way possible, with a win. At the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn birdied the final two holes to claim a one shot victory over Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda.
What a great win for the Thai superstar, who finished the season adding two trophies to her trophy case. While her win near the beginning of year propelled her to the world number one ranking for the first time, I could argue this win in Naples was almost as important.
With her well documented struggles the last few months, Jutanugarn was missing the vital ingredient to her success, confidence. I talked about Ariya and confidence many times this year, but confidence really is the defining factor to her success. At the Tibúron Golf Club, she was firing on all cylinders, including mentally, and I was fortunate enough to see it all unfold in person.
Throughout the week I spent some time watching Ariya practice and play, and even talked to her a couple of times. I was blown away at her comfort level, and how much fun she was having. She truly looked at peace, and ready to jump back in the winner’s circle. Not only did she look at peace, she sounded relaxed and confident when I spoke to her after the first round. Sure enough, she was right there on Sunday afternoon hoisting the trophy.
Jutanugarn was in control most of the week, missing only nine fairways and averaging 275.25 yards off the tee (without a driver in the bag). She finished the tournament missing eighteen greens in regulation, but her putting was phenomenal, where she averaged 27.75 putts per round for the week. But the moment that showed where she was mentally actually happened on her opening tee shot in the final round. She chunked the shot, hitting the ground inches behind the ball. However, with her have-fun mindset fully engaged, she brushed the shot off, and pushed on. In fact, she had completely forgotten about the missed tee shot until a reporter asked her about it after the tournament. That’s how focused she was.
Fast forward to the 72nd hole, Ariya needed birdie to win, but she did not know where she stood as she walked down the 18th fairway. Once she made it to the green, her caddie informed her if she made the downhill 15-footer, victory would be hers. After her customary, exhale and smile pre-putt routine, she calmly struck the ball, and with perfect speed and line buried the tournament clinching putt.
What a way to finish the season.
Now, maybe her comfort level was due to her first round pairing with sister Moriya. Maybe the relaxed attitude was a result of it being the final tournament of the year. She was also carrying momentum from the Asian swing, where she tied for 16th the week before the CME. Maybe all of these contributed to her season ending win. All I know is, she looked as comfortable as I have ever seen her on a golf course.
With the offseason officially underway, Ariya’s competitors have two months to worry about the lessons Jutanugarn learned, and how 2018 could be an all-time great season for the 22 year old.
Steps in the Right Direction
23 October 2017
A tough stretch of golf for Ariya has seemingly began to level off, with a tie for 33rd and tie for 30th in her last two events. With four tournaments left in the LPGA season, the timing is just right for one final push.
After the Evian Championship, Jutanugarn took nearly a month off from competitive golf. Sometimes, a step away from your job is necessary to regain some clarity.
I think we often forget that while golf is a game, it is also what Ariya and her peers do for a living. The pressures of playing for a check each week is immensely different than playing a casual round with friends. Not only is she playing for a check, she is playing for her sponsors, country, family, and herself.
Being someone who golfs often, but for fun, it is difficult to wrap my head around all those external pressures. My point being, Jutanugarn has a lot happening in her life, and keeping golf at the forefront during every tournament has to be tough.
Now, I’m not trying to make any excuses for Ariya, but I can understand why playing consistent golf could be difficult.
Ariya spent much of her time off with family, including older sister Moriya. While not surprising, the Jutanugarn sisters played several events the last few months without the other in attendance. You would be hard-pressed to find sisters closer than May and Mo. They are travel companions, roommates, and best friends. For the Jutanugarn’s, at least half the year is spent on the road, all over the world. Having her older sister with her on tour has been a constant, in a world that is always changing. Family may be just a piece of the puzzle, but it is an important piece to her success.
Personally, Ariya’s play steadying in her last two events is not surprising. The Asian swing gives many players on the LPGA Tour the opportunity to play in their home country, or very close to home. This generally means more family and friends in attendance, familiar culture, and the other small things that translate to a comfortable environment. For Jutanugarn, confidence is key, and anything bringing her some peace of mind during tournament week is a positive.
Though Ariya is not near her peak playing level, I believe the previous two events are a sign of things to come. Momentum is growing, and a comfortable Jutanugarn is scary for the rest of her competitors. This final stretch will be fun to watch, and Ariya is trending in the right direction.
Not Easy at the Top
21 September 2017
If someone would have told me, before the 2017 LPGA season began, Ariya Jutanugarn would miss 6 cuts in a 7 tournament stretch (1 WDC), I would not have believed that person. She showed such dominant form in her breakout 2016 season. Most people, who have followed women’s golf closely the last few years, knew she had the talent to accomplish what she did last season. However, there was that one little missing ingredient. At times, Jutanugarn’s confidence would drift, and her mental game let her down. Evident by her ten consecutive missed cuts in the 2015 season.
So, the theory was, once she got passed that hurdle, the flood gates would open, and she would never look back.
Golf is a funny game though.
The floodgates did open. Initially. She won her first three tournaments consecutively.
The words to describe her level of play in that stretch are difficult to come up with. It was incredible.
This season began with a legitimate chance to claim the number one ranking in the world. Ariya accomplished that.
She won a tournament this year to overtake Lydia Ko for the number one ranking.
But even then, something seemed off. Jutanugarn almost seemed surprised about the victory. She knew her confidence had been waning, and the win is a testament to her extraordinary talent.
However, since that week, things have not been so easy for Ariya.
Most recently, she has missed three cuts in a row.
So, what’s going on with Jutanugarn?
To me, that’s a question only she can really answer.
I know she is working hard on her game, and the physical aspect of things are probably very close to where she expects to be. The part of golf that has left so many people distraught, throughout its existence, is the mental side of the game. If I had to point to something, that would be it.
With her relatively quick rise to superstardom last season, along with her brief stint as the world number one this year, it is safe to assume her life was flipped upside down. The constant media requests, the sponsor obligations, and somewhere in-between that, practicing/playing golf.
All at the age of 22.
A lot has changed in the last year and a half. Expectations have risen, and the pressure she must feel from her home country of Thailand has to weigh on her.
When something significantly changes in life, there is usually a learning curve that comes with it. I believe Jutanugarn is in the midst of this learning curve. Each person is different, and the adjustment period varies.
Ariya will find her confidence again, and she will get back to winning tournaments.
I’m not sure when that will be, but I know I’ll be keeping my eye on her in the coming months. As talented as Jutanugarn is, a win could happen at any time.
Keep watching, I know I will.
Much Needed Break
15 August 2017
After missing the cut in three of her last five tournaments, all majors, Ariya is sure to be enjoying a couple weeks off. It should also be noted she withdrew from a tournament with a minor injury, probably for precautionary reasons more than anything.
This season has been a rollercoaster of emotions for Jutanugarn. Coming off a breakout season in 2016, where she won five times on the LPGA tour, lots of expectations were placed on the Thai player.
With a consistent start to the season Ariya made up ground on Lydia Ko for the number one spot in the Rolex World Rankings. With her win at the Manulife LPGA Classic she ascended to the number one position. Since that win things have not gone as smoothly.
There is plenty of season left however, and I believe the near three weeks off will be beneficial for Ariya. If you know Jutanugarn, or follow her on social media, you know family is extremely important to her. Spending time with her sister Moriya, who is having an outstanding season, and with other members of her family brings her happiness and way to escape the grind of golf.
The LPGA just completed a stretch of 13 consecutive tournaments. Although Ariya did not play in every event, some time off is probably just what the doctor ordered.
I would not be surprised to see her place in the top-ten when tournament play resumes after the Solheim Cup. Jutanugarn is returning to the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open as the defending champion. Ariya plays her best when she is confident, and a nice refreshing break, away from the stresses of tournament golf, should help her confidence moving forward.
Hopefully the combination of time off and returning to the site of a dominate performance a year ago, will be the boost she needs to carry her through the remainder of the season.
I know I’m looking forward to seeing Ariya return to top form, and I expect her to do just that. Keep an eye on the Thai superstar, some great results may be just around the corner.
Searching For Confidence
18 July 2017
Since taking over the number one spot in the Rolex Rankings, Ariya has struggled to find consistency. Her struggles following her win at the Manulife LPGA Classic, include missed cuts at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Women’s U.S. Open. Major Championships bring all kinds of pressure and expectations, especially for a player ranked in the top two in the world (So Yeon Ryu has taken over the number one ranking). Jutanugarn’s struggles are rarely traced to her swing or physical playing, her poor play is usually a result of her confidence. When she’s not confident, the number of bogey’s increase, and pars and birdies decrease. Even after her win in Canada she admitted to not being very confident with her swing, and she felt very fortunate to win. This is a testament to her incredible talent.
Maybe the pressure of being number one got to her.
Maybe the expectations of fans, media, and her home country of Thailand got to her.
Or maybe she was already in a funk mentally, and the win and number one ranking came in spite of that.
She’s an extremely gifted player, who occasionally struggles with the mental side of the game. But when confident, there are very few players in the world that can compete with her. Ten consecutive missed cuts in 2015, followed by five wins including three consecutive in 2016 is a great reminder of that.
Watching her play at Olympia Fields Country Club, at the Women’s PGA, I saw a player with the ability to overpower any golf course. I watched her hit a two iron off the tee on a par five, easily hitting the ball as far as her playing partners’ drivers. Television simply does not do justice for how far and straight she hits her two iron and three wood off the tee.
Watch her in person, and stand behind her during a tee shot if possible. Breathtaking is the only way I can describe it. Low wind-cutting ball flight, with a little draw. It’s remarkable. There is no doubt in my mind if/when she decides to use driver again, she could carry the ball 280 yards plus. Ariya is also an outstanding putter. A part of the game that has historically been a hindrance to power hitters. Despite the poor play, she continues to show the signs of a number one player. Hitting great shots, and making long putts.
The last few weeks have been tough to watch. All players have stretches where they struggle, and Jutanugarn is no different. We know how great she is on the course, and how happy and fun-loving she is off the course. We know she has an amazing support system, including her older sister Moriya, who is having the best season of her career. We know Ariya has the game to be the best in the world. We also know she has faced adversity and struggles before. She bounced back strong last year, and she will again this year.
A New Number One
13 June 2017
After an incredible 2016 season which saw Ariya win five times on the LPGA Tour, her play this season has been very consistent. The breakout year, followed by strong play this season, allowed her to make up a lot of ground on Lydia Ko in the world rankings. The great play has paid off.
Ariya won her first tournament of 2017, at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Ontario, Canada, as she defeated Lexi Thompson and In Gee Chun in a playoff. The win has lifted her to the world number one ranking for the first time, surpassing Ko for the top spot. Jutanugarn becomes the first Thai player to reach world number one.
Jutanugarn and So-Yeon Ryu have had a chance to take the top spot from Ko for the last several weeks. With Ryu missing her first cut since 2014, and Ko taking three tournaments off, the door was opened for Jutanugarn, and she took advantage by winning in Canada.
Ariya has gained momentum heading into a busy summer stretch on the LPGA, which includes three major championships. Her game is there, and now her confidence, don’t be surprised by another run of dominant play by the new world number one.
Solid Play Continues
30 May 2017
Ariya has played very well in the month of May. Last year at this time she was wrapping up her third consecutive victory. Although no wins this year, she finished April with a T9 finish at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, started May by finishing second at the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play, and added another two finishes inside the top 21.
At the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this past weekend, Ariya shot a second round 66 (-6) to put herself into contention heading into the weekend. She followed that up with a 4 under par 68 on Saturday, putting herself in a good position to win the tournament. After the round Saturday Ariya told Amy Rogers of LPGA.com that she was putting really well. This is a great sign for Jutanugarn moving forward, with major championships coming up quickly, starting with the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the end of June.
Jutanugarn, along with So-Yeon Ryu, are closing in on Lydia Ko for the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. If Jutanugarn would have finished inside the top 3 and Ryu outside the top 4, Ariya would have taken over the number 1 ranking. Neither player finished inside the top 20, as Ko remains world number 1, but Jutanugarn did move up one spot to number 2 in the world rankings.
With her solid play things are looking positive for Ariya. If her confidence with the putter continues to grow, expect her back in the winner’s circle soon.
A Win is Near
25 April 2017
Ariya has played very well in the eight tournaments she has played in this season. In those eight events Jutanugarn has six top tens. She also has a tie for 3rd and two runner up finishes. Her worst finish is a tie for 47th and that was the season’s first tournament. Since then Ariya has been playing at a high level, getting closer and closer to a victory. According to LPGA.com, so far this season she is 9th in scoring average, and 1st in birdies. These statistics show she is playing well enough to win, but also shows the high level the rest of the tour is playing at.
Jutanugarn has also reunited with caddie Les Luark. Luark caddied for Ariya through the very bad, (10 missed cuts in a row in 2015) and the very good, (3 wins in a row in May 2016.) A disagreement caused them to part ways last summer. After the fourth event of this season Jutanugarn decided to give Luark another chance, and the two seem to have found common ground. The familiarity and the level of comfort are surely positives for Ariya moving forward the rest of this season.
Ariya’s game is showing she is ready for a win. Maybe multiple wins. The month of May is right around the corner, and we all know what happened last year. (As I mentioned before, she swept the LPGA tournaments in May 2016.) Her confidence appears to be there, and she is making lots of birdies. I would not be surprised if we saw an Ariya win, and maybe even another winning streak, in the near future.
Ariya had a busy off-season that did not include very much golf. After the CME Group Tour Championship, she spent 2 weeks doing sponsor obligations back home in Thailand, then finally got to rest after a busy 2016. She was able to have a little vacation time with her sister, Moriya Jutanugarn, before returning to the states and getting back to playing golf after the start of the New Year. Henderson and Jutanugarn Enjoy Off-Season, Prep For 2017
Respected golf writer, Amy Rogers, explains why confidence is the key to Ariya’s success CONFIDENCE KEY FOR ARIYA JUTANUGARN IN 2017
About Ariya Jutanugarn
Ariya Jutanugarn (Turning 22 in November 2017) is a professional golfer from Thailand. Ariya had a breakout year in 2016 winning 5 times on the LPGA tour, including all 3 tournaments in May, becoming the first player in LPGA history to win her first 3 tournaments consecutively. She went on to win two more tournaments in 2016 including the Women’s British Open, becoming the first Thai player, male or female, to win a major championship. She is the current No. 2 golfer. Source: Wikipedia
Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016 (Source: LPGA)
28 events, 27 cuts made, $2,550,947
1st on the money list
Five victories, including her first major championship at the Women’s British Open with an additional 11 top-ten finishes and one runner-up. Ariya became the second player to win the Race to the CME Globe, Rolex Player of the Year, and the LPGA Official Money Title in the same season, joining Lydia Ko (2015)
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