Jutanugarns finish 1-2 at South Atlantic Am
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Moriya Jutanugarn stared down at the card of scribble in her hand. The victory speech proved far more daunting for Moriya than beating her younger sister Ariya for the South Atlantic Amateur title. When Ariya went forward to collect her second-place trophy, Moriya slumped down to the floor. The last time she had addressed a roomful of people in English, she nearly wept.
86th Annual South Atlantic Amateur: Final round
Check out images from our Tracy Wilcox at Oceanside Country Club in Ormond Beach, Fla.
Moriya’s effort drew applause from the members of Oceanside Country Club, who were smitten with that smile full of braces. The Jutanugarn sisters aren’t from around here, and their English is limited, but their friendly demeanor translates naturally. One member even asked this scribe to video their tee shots with an iPhone. No doubt she wanted a lesson in precision.
Earlier in the week, USGA officials made the trek to Ormond Beach to interview the Jutanugarns’ parents about the funding they receive at home in Thailand for international travel. Moriya said the sisters weren’t privy to the conversations that took place during their second round and didn’t let the USGA’s inquiries affect their play.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Moriya said.
Moriya, 17, finished three strokes ahead of 16-year-old Ariya with a 12-under 276 total. Moriya closed with a 70 on the strength of six birdies, rebounding after opening bogey-double bogey to start the final round. Moriya said she told herself, “You have to come back.” She extended her lead to five through 13 holes.
England’s Charley Hull joined the Jutanugarns in the final group. Hull, the recent Harder Hall champion, plays with a quick, powerful swing. She finished four shots behind Moriya and should be a strong consideration for Great Britain & Ireland’s Curtis Cup team.
When Hull’s chip shot on the par-3 14th hung on the edge of the cup, she turned toward the gallery at the back of the green and said, “On the count of three, everyone blow.” It was an amusing moment to an otherwise steady, uneventful display of golf.
The brutally cold temperatures and harsh wind that have become the hallmark of the Sally were absent Saturday. It was fairly pleasant on the back nine, with a strong sun and barely a whisper of wind. Ariya even wore shorts.
Still, no one in the field broke 70. Moriya’s victory rested in large part on her second and third round scores of 66-65.
The two sisters decided not to ride together, to avoid any potential controversy. They typically use their parents as caddies, but this week the two flew solo.
Competitively speaking, Moriya lives in her younger sister’s shadow, though her command of English makes her seem more outgoing. The smaller of the two, Moriya gained more recognition last summer with a runner-up showing at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, with Ariya on the bag. Ariya is No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings and Moriya is second.
The two show no outward jealousies toward each other’s success, though they do tease. Midway through the final round, Ariya whined to Moriya about her poor putting.
“Yes, I know,” Moriya replied. “I see it.”
But when asked if she was the better putter overall, Moriya said, “Maybe this week.”
The Jutanugarns have been on U.S. soil since before Christmas and return to Bangkok on Sunday, their bags bursting with pro-shop goodies and souvenir trophies. They’ll wait to hear if they’ve been extended sponsor exemptions into the LPGA event in Thailand next month or the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
In the meantime, they’ll go back to their studies, no doubt mulling over future victory speeches. They are aplenty.