THEY say you learn more from your losses than your victories and Thai star Ariya Jutanugarn proved the theory correct with a win at the 2016 Women’s British Open.
After a devastating finish to the first major of the year, where the 20-year-old dropped shots at each of the last three holes to hand the title to Lydia Ko, Jutanugarn hung tough at Woburn to become the first Thai player in history to claim a major title.
One of the longest hitters in the game and believed by many to be good enough to one day be the top-ranked player in the world, Jutanugarn’s mettle was being questioned early in the year after her finish at the ANA Inspiration.
Fairly or otherwise, the result was being compared to a horror finish the then teenager had endured at her national championship in 2013.
That year, playing on an invite, Jutanagarn came to the 72nd hole of the tournament holding a two-shot lead on her way to what looked to be a fairytale ending.
But things went badly wrong and instead of making birdie or better at the par-five, she somehow conspired to make a triple bogey and lose the tournament by a shot.
The finish had haunted Jutanugarn ever since and when she suffered the late collapse in California in April, it must have felt like déjà vu.
ARIYA JUTANUGARN'S FINAL ROUND HIGHLIGHTS:
But to her eternal credit, the likeable superstar took the lessons of that incredible disappointment and turned her game around.
In May, she became the first player from Thailand to win on the LPGA Tour at the Yokohama Tire Classic then, two weeks later, won the very next tournament on the schedule at the Kingsmill Championship.
Not done yet, she posted a third consecutive victory at the Volvik Championship a week later, displaying a newfound confidence and calm in her game.
That spilled over to the Women’s British Open in July where she played solid golf over the opening three days to hold a two-stroke lead with 18 to play.
But despite playing partner Mirim Lee getting to with one stroke after a Jutanugarn double bogey on the 13th, she regrouped to pull away and eventually win by three.
“On 13, I’m like, ‘Oh, what’s wrong with me,’ ” Jutanugarn said after the round. “But after that, I’m really patient and I can come back really good."
Unlike previous experiences, though, she fought back with a clutch birdie at the 17th to reclaim a two-shot buffer and made a solid par at the last to seal the win.
“Feels great,” Jutanugarn told reporters after signing her card.
“After my first tournament on tour, my goal is I really want to win a major, and I did, so I’m very proud of myself.”
Having learnt from her mistakes and now in control of a power game unlike any other in women’s golf, it seems the 2016 Women’s British Open will likely be remembered simply as Jutanugarn’s first of mulitple majors.
PLAYER PROFILE ARIYA JUTANUGARN:
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