5 Things: Ariya Jutanugarn in control at Girls' Junior
63rd U.S. Girls Junior Championship
A look at the action at Olympia Fields for the U.S. Girls Junior Championship.
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – This week, Ariya Jutanugarn is the top-ranked junior in the world. And at Olympia Fields Country Club, she’s playing like it.
Jutanugarn, 15, of Thailand, left the rest of the field in the dust Monday, shooting a 4-under 68 during the first round of stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Girls’ Junior. She finished the job Tuesday with an even-par 72 to earn medalist honors at a U.S. Golf Association event for the second time in her career.
Jutanugarn also was medalist at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
The most surprising thing about Jutanugarn’s play was her caddie, older sister Moriya, 16. She certainly qualifies as one of the most accomplished loopers in the field, having come straight from The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she earned the low-amateur honor at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Moriya, who holds the top spot in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, had to withdraw from the Girls’ Junior with an injured left wrist, which she thinks was aggravated by hitting out of deep rough at the Open. Thus, Ariya became de facto No. 1.
Though she’s caddied for Ariya many times, including at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, she’s pretty much over that side of the bag.
“I don’t want to be caddie anymore,” she said with a laugh.
Ariya also played at the Women’s Open two weeks ago, failing to make the cut. She attributes this week’s better play to her putting, and concedes part of that is because of the difficulty of The Broadmoor’s greens.
Ariya showed disgust at a second-nine 1-over 37 that put her back to even on the day after turning in 35.
“In the front nine, I played good; back nine, so bad,” she said.
Perhaps that kind of perfectionism is one reason she’s among the best.
2. Open redemption: Mariel Galdiano, 13, had spectators in a frenzy at the U.S. Women’s Open two weeks ago, as she drew comparisons to fellow Hawaiian prodigy Michelle Wie. She shot a pair of 85s at The Broadmoor to finish last in the field, but is redeeming herself at the Girls’ Junior.
“Since it was really far and there were so many people watching, and then you come here and it’s way closer and there’s hardly any people watching, so I’m not nervous or anything. Just trying to play my game,” she said.
A unique look at the Girls' Junior
Using the iPhone application, Instagram, and the iPhone 3Gs camera, Golfweek photographer, Tracy Wilcox, captured a variety of images during the tournament. Instagram is an application which allows you to shoot pictures, apply a variety of filters and share with friends.
Galdiano was 2 under at the turn, but struggled on the back nine as the Midwest heat wore her down. She finished at 4-over 148 and is safely into match play.
3. One to keep an eye on: Annie Park, 16, is beginning to feel old. Playing in her third U.S. Girls’ Junior, Park has found this match-play thing to be old hand.
“I love match play a lot better than this,” she said after a second-round 76 left her T-33 at 7 over.
Park joked that she didn’t want to talk about her back nine, which included six bogeys and no birdies. She said she had trouble keeping her focus.
“I’ve learned my lesson: stay awake,” she said.
Park earned a confidence boost last month by knocking out stroke-play medalist Cheyenne Woods in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. Park would lose to eventual champion Brianna Do in the semis, but after a quick swing lesson with coach Sean Foley, she’s ready to go again this week.
And not a bad pick to win.
4. What a difference a year makes: Katelyn Dambaugh was a wide-eyed, unknown local when she made it to the final match again junior juggernaut Doris Chen at the 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior. She wore a Duke visor (with signatures from alums DeMarcus Nelson and Brittany Lang), pink golf shoes and made it clear that should her impending start in the U.S. Women’s Amateur interfere with the Justin Bieber concert she was scheduled to attend, well, you could just forget about that.
A year later, Dambaugh has morphed into a junior force. She has committed to South Carolina for the fall of 2013, won an individual state high school championship title and earned her spot in the upcoming AJGA Wyndham Cup. She arrived in the Chicago area a week ago for a little pre-tournament work with swing coach Lou Solarte, with whom she’s been working for four years.
Despite the differences, the goal this week remained the same.
“I still just wanted to make the cut,” she said. And she just barely did it, finishing at 8-over 150, two shots inside the cut line.
Consider this scenario when thinking about how close Dambaugh came to missing match play: When she missed a short birdie putt at No. 7, her 16th hole of the day, Dambaugh kicked her putter and bent it so badly that she had to putt out the final two holes with a wedge. She proudly explained that she had two putts on each of those greens before going upstairs at the Olympia Fields clubhouse and getting a new putter from the TaylorMade performance lab.
“I’ve never done that before,” she said, somewhat sheepishly, of putting with her wedge.
5. Left on the sidelines: While Dambaugh earned a spot on the match-play bracket, a few other notables were left on the wrong side of the cut.
Georgia commit Collins Bradshaw missed by one shot, as did Bethany Wu, who advanced to the second round of WAPL match play. Wake Forest commit Mariana Sims also was at 11 over and one shot outside of the cut line.
Jordan Lippetz, who has 12 career top-10s in AJGA events, was another shot back.
Danielle Lemek, who has won three Nebraska Girls’ Match Play Championships and three Nebraska Girls’ Stroke Play Championships, fell two shots short.