The amateur season roared in with talk of the Curtis Cup in Scotland, and died down with the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey, which made patriotism a big part of 2012. But in terms of women’s amateur golf, 2012 also was the year of the Kiwi (read: Lydia Ko) and the last summer of the Jutanugarn sisters.
Golfweek will spend 10 days counting down the top amateur players of the past year. Who will be No. 1? Who else will make the list? Check back each day.
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No. 2: Ariya Jutanugarn
R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking: 2
2012 in review: Won Women’s Western Amateur; won PGA Junior Championship; won Canadian Women’s Amateur; won Thunderbird International; won Rolex Girls Junior; won Polo Golf Junior Classic; won LET Q-School; Rolex Player of the Year
Jutanugarn is perhaps the only amateur who is more commonly referred to only by her first name. But when you win two major amateur events, four major junior tournaments and tack on a Q-School title, that’s understandable.
When Jutanugarn, a 17-year-old from Bangkok, Thailand, entered a tournament this year, chances were great that she would win it. Opponents were aware. Jutanugarn maintained the top spot in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, and was No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Beginning with the Kraft Nabisco Championship at the end of April, an LPGA major into which she gained entry by a sponsor exemption, Jutanugarn’s competition schedule was more loaded than many a professional’s.
To hear Jutanugarn tell it, 2012 was the year in which she fought to maintain control of her swing. Known for hitting fairways and holing miraculous putts, Jutanugarn ended most rounds by declaring that her game was “so bad” that day. She said she struggled to control the ball, and many days had no idea where it was going. The titles kept coming however, mostly because Jutanugarn showed an incredible ability to hole crucial putts.
The highlights of Jutanugarn’s summer are plentiful – there were, after all, seven significant victories. However, one match also stands out from the summer. Jutanugarn and Casie Cathrea met in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior in July and fought a fast-paced back-and-forth match that Jutanugarn eventually sealed with a 40-foot birdie putt at the 16th green (Cathrea lost on the next hole). It was a thrilling display of golf, and fitting for Jutanugarn’s last summer on the U.S. Golf Association circuit. Here’s hoping she continues to deliver fireworks on the Ladies European Tour in 2013.