Moriya Jutanugarn eyes Evian title as sister Ariya cheers on

Moriya Jutanugarn Evian Championship Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Moriya Jutanugarn eyes Evian title as sister Ariya cheers on

LPGA Tour

Moriya Jutanugarn eyes Evian title as sister Ariya cheers on

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn have a chance to make history as the first pair of sisters to win LPGA majors. Ariya, a former World No. 1, won the 2016 Ricoh Women’s British Open and now Moriya takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the weather-shortened Evian Championship. Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam are the only sisters who have both won LPGA titles. Brothers Lionel Hebert and Jay Hebert won the PGA Championship in 1957 and ’60, respectively. Mungo Park and Willie Park went back to back at the British Open in 1874 and 1875.

“I believe in her,” said Ariya, who missed the cut at Evian but will be rooting hard for older sis’.

Moriya, who leads at 9-under 133, has eight top-10 finishes on the season, including a share of second at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She played in the final group at this year’s British Open at Kingsbarns but struggled with a 75 to finish tied for 16th.

The 5-foot-1 Moriya has played in the shadow of the long-bombing Ariya her entire career. Ariya, a six-time winner on the LPGA and last year’s Rolex Player of the Year, recently replaced footballer Lionel Messi on Gatorade bottles in Thailand, joining Serena Williams and Alexis Sanchez. 

“It could be my week,” said the sweet-natured Moriya, who is doing her best to be patient as she awaits her first victory.

The biggest change Ariya sees in her sister of late has to do with her mental game. The Jutanugarns, who both work with Vision54, have extremely differently personalities. Ariya wants to know the least amount of information possible when it comes to her swing, and Moriya wants to know it all.

“Everything she has is good enough to win a tournament,” said Ariya. “This year more her mindset is way better. She’s really positive now. When she misses a shot she’s like so what? That’s a big change.”

A more confident Moriya ranks first on the LPGA in birdies (351) and aces (2). Moriya actually outranks Ariya in driving, but that’s misleading as Ariya mostly uses a 2-iron off the tee. 

During practice rounds at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play in Mexico City, where the sisters met in the Round of 32, Ariya pounded driver 100 yards past her older sister. Moriya is used to that sort of thing, but it was worse with the altitude. Ariya, who was on the rollaway that week at the hotel, won that match and Moriya flew home. 

When Ariya won the British Open at Woburn, Moriya signed her scorecard and ran back out to the course to watch her sister play the last few holes.

“Like I feel nervous, I feel exciting,” said Moriya of watching her sister. “I feel … everything like (a) player (feels). It’s great.”

The roles will be reversed at Evian, with Ariya joining her mother Apple on the fairways Sunday to watch Moriya contend for glory.

She’ll have her work cut out, with 2017 U.S. Women’s Open winner Sung Hyun Park on her heels along with former No. 1 Lydia Ko, who won the Evian in 2015, and 2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open winner In-Kyung Kim.

Ariya’s image can be found on the lemon-lime Gatorade bottles in Thailand. Could Moriya be next?

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