Ariya Jutanugarn didn’t take long to announce her presence on the Ladies European Tour.
The Thai teenager got her professional career off to the best possible start with victory in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Agadir, Morocco, in just her fourth LET start.
In fact, the tournament turned into a tale of two teenagers. Seventeen-year-old Jutanugarn began the final round one shot behind 16-year-old English Curtis Cup player Charley Hull, but didn’t take long to get to the top of the leaderboard.
After a third-round 64, Hull lost the lead on the opening hole of the final round when she hit her approach shot over the first green and found her ball in a deep hole in a sandy waste area. She called for a rules official, but was not entitled to relief since there was no evidence of a burrowing animal.
The Curtis Cup star had to hole a 15-foot putt to salvage a bogey. She added a second bogey at the eighth hole to be out in 2-over 37. However, she managed two birdies on the homeward stretch for a level-par 71 to finish at 11 under, three shots behind Jutanugarn in a tie with Beth Allen of the United States.
Jutanugarn had no problems with the first hole, or the next two for that matter. She birdied that trio to jump into a lead she never relinquished. Further birdies followed at the seventh, 10th and 11th holes to reach 6 under through 11 holes.
The Thai sensation was so far ahead of the field she had the luxury of a double bogey at the 15th when she drove into bushes. A birdie followed at the 17th to punctuate the victory. Rounds of 69-67-67-67 gave her a total of 14-under 270.
Jutanugarn ended her amateur career as No. 2 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. She then won the LET’s Qualifying School in Marrakech in December. Needless to say, she was expected to do well amongst Europe’s elite, but perhaps not this soon.
Her €48,750 winner’s check moves her to the top of the LET Order of Merit. She’s earned €74,520.74 from her four tournaments, nearly €17,000 ahead of Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.
Hull took home €27,868.75 and moves to 10th on the LET order of merit. The English teenager is playing on a conditional card this year after narrowly missing a full card at the Q School. However, expect her to play a full schedule this year.
Also expect the two teenagers to vie for top places on the LET final money list at the end of this 2013 season.