World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn enjoys newfound confidence on links

World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn enjoys newfound confidence on links

LPGA Tour

World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn enjoys newfound confidence on links

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England ­– Ariya Jutanugarn smiled sheepishly as a moderator reminded scribes of her 2018 season: Three victories thus far, including the U.S. Women’s Open, and 19 of 19 cuts made. He left out money leader and scoring leader (69.42). She also the paces the tour in putting, birdies and Rolex Player of the Year points.

My how she would’ve blushed had he gone that far down the list.

Already a 10-time winner on the LPGA, the 22-year-old Jutanugarn comes to this year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open with a No. 1 ranking and newfound confidence. Never much of a fan of links golf (Jutanugarn won her 2016 British Open on a parkland layout in Woburn) the Thai star told herself last week that she had to find something that could help her manage this style of play.

Thanks in part to a lot of prompting ­– or yelling as Jutanugarn called it – from her caddie to properly play the wind, Jutanugarn found success on Sunday at Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open. She hopes it carries over to Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where the women last played in 2009.

2017 Ricoh Women’s British Open champ In-Kyung Kim calls Royal Lytham & St. Annes her favorite course in the world. The 2009 Women’s British came as a total shock to Kim, who “cried like crazy” over the maddening pot bunkers. Still, she couldn’t help but fall in love, saying the tight fairways play to her advantage.

“I don’t get bored on this course,” she said, “which I think that’s the secret factor.”

Her eyes lit up when she reminded everyone that Seve Ballesteros won twice here, including 1988, the year she was born.

Both Kim and Jutanguarn come to this year’s major with a greater sense of peace. Kim for having finally won a major after that unfortunate miscue at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco (the missed putt we can’t forget) and then navigating the emotional roller coaster that often comes with success.

“I had very unnecessary expectations of myself,” said Kim.

Jutanugarn’s peace centers around what she has learned about being No. 1. She has been there before, albeit briefly for only two weeks. This time the No. 1 ranking seemed inevitable rather than rushed.

“So now, especially right now, I know everything can change,” said Jutanugarn. “I never know, I might not be No. 1 after Monday.”

Or she could stay there for quite some time.

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