CALGARY – Five months after giving away a major championship with a late meltdown, Ariya Jutanugarn ran away with the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open at chilly Priddis Greens for her fifth victory in 10 events.
Jutanugarn made a 12-birdie putt on the final hole for a 6-under 66 and a four-stroke victory over South Korea’s Sei Young Kim. The 20-year-old Thai player won nine days after withdrawing from the Rio Olympics because of a left knee injury, a problem that almost forced her to skip the event.
“I feel like I’m going to withdraw this week because my knee hurt so bad last week,” Jutanugarn said. “But when I got here on Monday and Tuesday, it’s getting a lot better, and first round it’s fine.”
Bundled up in a winter jacket between shots with the temperature in the lows 50s on the overcast afternoon, the second-ranked Jutanugarn broke a tie with top-ranked Lydia Lo for the LPGA Tour victory lead.
Jutanugarn focused on having fun – and did. Blasting 2-iron and 3-wood off the driving holes on the tree-lined course, she birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth to get to 19 under, then pulled away with birdies on the par-5 12th, par-4 14th, par-3 15th and par-5 18th.
“I felt like I wanted to have fun and be happy,” Jutanugarn said. “No matter what’s going to happen, I can handle it.”
That wasn’t the case all that long ago. In April at the ANA Inspiration in the California desert, Jutanugarn – at the time, best known for blowing a two-stroke lead with a closing triple bogey at age 17 in the 2013 LPGA Thailand – bogeyed the final three holes to hand the major title to Ko.
Jutanugarn rebounded in a big way, breaking through in May with three straight victories in Alabama, Virginia and Michigan. She won the Women’s British Open in the event before the Olympics, and made it two in a row on the tour Sunday in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.
“After I won my first tournament, I feel like I reached my goal, and after that I feel like I don’t care like what my ranking going to be. I don’t care if I’m going to win the tournament or not. The only thing I want to be is I really want to be happy on the course.”
She has five victories in 10 events a year after missing 10 straight cuts.
“I just feel like at that time, the only focus, ‘I’m scared to miss the cut. I really want to make the cut,'” Jutanugarn said. “But after that I feel like I changed my focus, so right now my focus is like what’s going to be good, like what I have to do to be good, so I’m thinking about like what is under my control, not thinking about like anything else.”
Jutanugarn matched the tournament record for relation of 23 under set by So Yeon Ryu two years ago at London Hunt in Ontario and the mark for strokes of 265 set by Ryu and also accomplished by Ko in 2013 at par-70 Royal Mayfair in Edmonton.
Kim, a two-time winner this year, closed with a 65. South Korea’s In Gee Chun, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open champion, was third at 18 under after a 69. Canada’s Alena Sharp had the best result of her LPGA Tour career, birdieing the final two holes for a 67 to finish fourth at 16 under.
“I can’t really describe how great it feels to play this well in Canada,” said Sharp, from Hamilton, Ontario.
Australia’s Karrie Webb (64) and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (68) tied for fifth at 15 under. Webb won the 1999 du Maurier Classic, the then-major championship that folded because of Canada’s restrictions on tobacco promotions, at Priddis Greens. She was second behind Suzann Pettersen at the course in 2009.
“On the back nine, everything went in,” Webb said.
Three-time champion Ko had a 69 to tie for seventh at 13 under.
“I was a little far away going into today,” the 19-year-old New Zealander said. “But it’s been a great week.”
She won three of the previous four years, the first two as an amateur.
Canadian star Brooke Henderson shot a 69 to tie for 14th at 11 under. The 18-year-old from Smith Falls, Ontario, is already thinking about next year’s tournament at Ottawa Hunt.
“We recently became members at the Ottawa Hunt, so it’s my home golf course,” Henderson said. “It’s only 45 minutes from my house.”
She also will play in her home province next week in the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge.
DIVOTS: Japan’s Ayako Uehara had a hole-in-one for the second straight day. After acing the 11th with a hybrid from 158 yards Saturday, she holed a 7-iron from 164 yards on the eighth. She’s the fourth player in LPGA Tour history with two aces in a week. She tied for 10th at 12 under after a 67. … Players 23 or younger have won 21 of the 23 tour events this year.