CHONBURI – Inbee Park of South Korea took advantage of overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn’s triple bogey on the last hole Sunday to secure a one-stroke victory in the LPGA Thailand.
Jutanugarn blew a two-stroke lead on the 18th when she first had to take a drop and then missed a 3-foot putt to force a playoff.
The 17-year-old Thai golfer, who had a hole-in-one earlier in the round, was moved to tears as the putt lipped out, while a surprised Park started celebrating in the clubhouse with her caddie.
“I just didn’t expect this kind of finish,” said Park, adding that she sympathized with Jutanagarn. “If I was in Ariya’s situation, I would be very, very nervous and I don’t’ think I would have handled the pressure until the last hole. I think she handled the pressure well today and this week. Just the last day, I just think it’s going to happen. I think something like this happening is just experience under her belt. She’s going to be a great player later on.”
The fourth-ranked Park finished with a 67 for a 12-under 276 total, with Jutanugarn a shot back after a 72.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan shot a final-round 63 to finish another stroke back in joint third with Beatriz Recari of Spain (70) and So Yeon Ryu of South Korea (68).
Jutanugarn’s troubles on the par-5 last hole started when she landed in a bunker and had had to take a drop for an unplayable lie. She then overshot the green before three-putting for an 8.
“I was really disappointed because I went onto the course hoping to win not for myself but for the whole country,” Jutanugarn said. “A lot of people came to support me and wanted to see me win. But I didn’t make it. However, I was so happy that they still supported me even I didn’t live up to their expectations.”
Jutanugarn had fought back from a stroke behind Park by hitting a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th to regain the lead at 14 under — and win a car from a sponsor. But she then paid the price for playing too aggressively on the last.
“I went for two shots (to the green) instead of three on the 18th hole. I was crazy to do that and I learned my lesson,” she said. “I thought I would finish with a bogey at worst and win by a shot but I never imagined this.”
It was the fourth LPGA win for the 24-year-old Park after her most recent in the 2012 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia last October.
“Out of all the other wins, this win just felt like it was not as much work this week,” Park said. “It was a lot easier this week for me and I really want to congratulate Ariya for her fantastic golf the last four days. She has a lot of fans out here and she’s very talented. So I think I’ll be seeing more of her.”