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Hard to pronounce but worth watching

IT might be the most difficult in the field to pronounce but it would pay to commit the name Ariya Jutanugarn to memory.

IT might be the most difficult in the field to pronounce but it would pay to commit the name Ariya Jutanugarn to memory.

The 19-year-old from Thailand shares the lead at the Australian Women's Open through 36 holes after rounds of 68-71 to be 6-under.

World number one Lydia Ko and LPGA Tour player Ha Na Jang are at the same score with the tournament shaping for a thrilling weekend's play.

Ko is expected to be at the top of the board but both Jang and Jutanurgan are less well known names to the Australian public.

Jang, a rookie on the LPGA Tour, is playing just her third event and has already impressed posting a second place finish at the opening event of the season.

But it is Jutanugarn who has the fans and judges excited.

Having spent much of 2014 sidelined with a shoulder injury the teenager has wowed the crowd with a display of power hitting not often seen in the women's game.

Paired with Ladies Master winner Su Oh and former Canadian Open champion Katherine Kirk for the first two rounds she routinely outdrove the pair with a 3-wood and hit irons for her second into several par-5's.

“It's just a fabulous golf swing and quite a remarkable ball flight,” says PGA member and commentator on the game Larry Canning.

“She really compresses the ball beautifully and the way she swings it she eliminates almost any sort of miss left.

“In many ways she's playing a different game to most in the field and it's an impressive game to say the least.”

Jutanugarn and her older sister Moriya have long been heralded as future stars of the game but it is Ariya who has the more powerful game.

While declaring herself not a great fan of the style of golf offered up at Royal Melbourne she has proved more than a match for the iconic Australian layout.

At her very first hole of the tournament, the 435 metre par-5 10th, she hit a 3-wood and a 2-iron to the heart of the green and two putted for birdie.

The theme has continued for 36 holes with less than driver required off most tees and, with short irons in hand, the ability to stop the ball on the firm putting surfaces.

Jutanurgan's short game is up to the standard of fer full swing also as evidenced by several delicate pitches to save par.

“I was talking to one of the other caddies from the LPGA Tour and he said the thinking is she's the world number one in waiting,” said former pro Mike Clayton who caddied for Su Oh in Jutanurgan's group.

“And from what I've seen the last two days I can see why. She hits it miles and has a great short game...she's just a great player.”

Already a winner on the Ladies European Tour and having been close more than once on the LPGA Jutanurgan is fast becoming a player to watch.

This is her rookie season on the LPGA Tour and it would be no surprise if she, like Jessica Korda in 2012, makes Royal Melbourne and the Australian Open her coming out party.



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