Last year Ariya Jutanugarn told Kiradech Aphibarnrat that if he qualified for the Masters, she had dibs on carrying his bag in the Par 3 Contest. She’ll be the second LPGA World No. 1 to wear the white jumpsuit, following in the footsteps of Lydia Ko two years ago.
The Thai pair have known each other for more than a decade, growing up in the same junior golf circles, though they have never played a round of golf together. Jutanugarn plans to attend the Masters from Monday to Saturday, flying out Sunday for the LPGA tournament in Hawaii.
“I’m going to stay with him too, same house,” Jutanugarn told The Forecaddie. “Hope he has a couch available for me.”
Ko looped for Kevin Na during the Par 3 Contest and hit his 9-iron on the ninth hole. Na told her before she hit the shot that he wanted her to autograph that ball afterward. Ko said he might not ever see the ball again with so much water around the green.
The reigning No. 1 didn’t disappoint, however, flushing it to 3 feet. Ko birdied her first hole at the Masters.
“It was probably one of the more nerve-wracking putts,” Ko said. “I was like ‘Oh my God, there are so many people watching.’ ”
The 14-time LPGA winner said watching “Mr. Nicklaus, Mr. Palmer and Mr. Player tee off” on the first hole Thursday was particularly cool. She likened the experience to the LPGA’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup, where generations come together to celebrate the past and the present.
Any advice for Jutanugarn’s first loop?
“Get the right size fitting jumpsuit thing,” she said. “I reckon mine was long.”
On Wednesday before the ANA Inspiration, Jutanugarn walked a few holes with Masters champ Mike Weir, who was at Mission Hills meeting with Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of Vision54. The 22-year-old Jutanugarn loved everything about last year’s Masters and was bummed to leave after two days, particularly with the Par 3 being canceled due to weather.
Jutanugarn told The Man Out Front that while she was rooting hard for Aphibarnrat to get inside the top 50 in the world, they don’t actually talk about golf. She’d love to talk about the shot she hopes to hit at the Masters Par 3 Contest on Wednesday though – if he’ll let her.
“He might not trust me enough,” she said, smiling. Gwk