No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn finds links success at Ladies Scottish Open

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 29: Ariya Jutanugarm of Thailand is congratulated after sinking her final putt at the 18th green to wins the Ladies Scottish Open during the final day of the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Course on July 29, 2018 in Gullane, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images) Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn finds links success at Ladies Scottish Open

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No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn finds links success at Ladies Scottish Open

Ariya Jutanugarn is on top of the world again.

It took the 22-year-old phenom a little more than a year to reclaim the World No. 1 ranking she held for a fortnight in the summer of 2017, and it happened at an unexpected venue.

“It means a lot to me because, before, I never thought I could win on a links course,” Jutanugarn said. “I don’t know why, I just got up to this week and told my caddie, ‘I really want to win on a links course. Even one time in my life, that’s enough.’”

Jutanugarn did just that at Gullane Golf Club in Scotland, where she shot 13-under 271 to win the Ladies Scottish Open by one stroke. The win moved her from No. 3 to No. 1 in the world ranking projections, ousting Inbee Park from the top spot. Jutanugarn held the title for two weeks a year ago, at which point she became the first Thai player ever to reach No. 1.

It’s the 10th LPGA win for Jutanugarn and first since her hard-fought playoff victory at the U.S. Women’s Open. This week she’ll have a chance at an Open sweep as the circuit stays overseas for the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club.

“I feel pretty good about my game right now but I know I still have some things I want to improve, like my short game,” Jutanugarn said. “But I feel a lot better on links courses, so I hope I’m going to be able to bring my A game next week.”

Jutanugarn bounced back from a 2-over 73 Saturday and shot 5-under 66 in the final round, hanging on to top Minjee Lee by a stroke. Lee charged up the leaderboard Sunday and matched Jutanugarn with a bogey-free 66, but she missed a birdie putt on 18 to get into a playoff.

“I was striking the ball pretty well and putting probably the best I have out of the last three days,” Lee said. “Overall it was a good week and looking forward to next week.”

Jutanugarn has now earned more than $2 million this season and enjoys a healthy lead in The Race to CME Globe. And despite that talk of improving her putting heading into the Women’s British Open, she leads the LPGA in putting average as well as scoring average, birdies made and fewest sub-par holes.

Now that Jutanugarn is projected to move into the No. 1 overall spot, she’ll have a chance at an extended run that eluded her last summer when she ended Lydia Ko’s 85-week reign. The spot has remained fluid since then and Ko has struggled significantly, with just one win over the past two years.

Jutanugarn has seven wins during that same time span and hasn’t given any signs of slowing down on or off the course.

“It feels good to be able to win the tournament but, also, I feel like I have so much fun because this game is really a challenge to me,” Jutanugarn said. “I still can improve myself every day, no matter how many tournaments I have won.”

Having reached double digits in just her fourth season on tour, there’s no telling how high that number will go. Gwk

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