Honda LPGA Thailand 2013
Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
Third-round notes and interviews
February 23, 2013
Thailand native and Ladies European Tour rookie Ariya Jutanugarn fired a 2-under 70 on Saturday and will take a three-shot lead heading into the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand 2013. The 17-year-old sponsor invite sits at 11-under-par through three rounds with three players chasing close behind her at 8-under -- LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Se Ri Pak, 2012 Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) and Spaniard Beatriz Recari (@BeatrizRecari).
Jutanugarn had an up-and-down day on the Siam Country Club’s Pattaya Old Course on Saturday, recording seven birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey. But she got hot enough on the back nine to pull away from the rest of the field. After recording a double bogey on the ninth hole, Jutanugarn caught fire as she made the turn. She recorded five straight birdies to start the back nine and took a two-shot advantage over the third-round leader, Lewis. The hot streak had the hometown crowd fired up with excitement as roars filled the golf course for the young Thai prodigy.
“I did feel a lot of pressure early on,” Jutanugarn said of playing in front of her home crowd. “I felt the whole Thai people hope was on my back. After a few holes people starting to cheers me up, and that made all the pressure gone away.”
Jutanugarn’s momentum slowed with a bogey on the 15th but she stretched her lead back to three shots on the very next hole when she birdied while Lewis dropped a shot. Jutanugarn wouldn’t make a single par on the back side as she stumbled with back-to-back bogeys to finish her round. Still, it was a strong enough performance, on a day when the majority of the field struggled to score, to give the 17-year-old a solid lead heading into the final round of an LPGA event.
“I should do better than a 2-under,” Jutanugarn said of her round. “But I am happy with my overall result.”
Youth rules: One week after 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko made a strong run at a second LPGA Tour title, it will be another young golfer who has a chance to make headlines as she chases a potential victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
And making the story even more interesting is that the potential young winner is also a hometown favorite: 17-year-old Thailand native Ariya Jutanugarn, who grew up about an hour and a half away in Bangkok.
Ariya is a rookie on the Ladies European Tour this season while her 18-year-old sister Moriya is a rookie on the LPGA Tour. Both of the Jutanugarns are playing in this week’s field as sponsor invites.
Despite their young age, the sisters both already boast impressive resumes. Ariya won the Ladies European Tour Final Qualifying Stage to earn status on the Tour for this season. She was ranked the No. 2 amateur in the world at the time of her victory. That came two weeks after her sister, Moriya, earned co-medalist honors at the LPGA’s Final Qualifying School.
Ariya also won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship and the 2011 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. She earned low amateur honors at the 2011 and 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
If Ariya can win on Sunday in Thailand, she would become the third youngest winner in LPGA history at the age of 17 years, 3 months and 1 day.
Here is the full list of the youngest winners in the Tour’s history:
Youngest winners in LPGA history
Lydia Ko, 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open (72-hole event) at 15 years, 4 months, 2 days *not a member of the LPGA
Lexi Thompson, 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic (72-hole event) at 16 years, 8 months, 8 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Sarasota Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 14 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Bakersfield Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury (72-hole event) at 18 years, 9 month, 17 days
Morgan Pressel, 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (72-hole event) at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
Jessica Korda, 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open (72-hole event) at 18 years, 11 months, 16 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Evian Masters (72-hole event), 18 years, 11 months, 18 days
Amy Alcott, 1975 Orange Blossom Classic (54-hole event) at 19 years, 1 day
Tough day on links: Just two days after tying her career-low round of 63, Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) had a hard time getting anything to go her way in Saturday’s third round. The 2012 Rolex Player of the Year entered the day with a three-shot lead over the field but never really found a groove.
Lewis recorded six bogeys and just two birdies en route to shooting a 4-over 76. She bogeyed her final three holes of the day to put her three shots back of Jutanugarn entering the final round.
Iron Woman: Beatriz Recari (@BeatrizRecari) is pleased with her streak of having not missed a cut on the LPGA Tour since September 2011 at the Navistar LPGA Classic. But the Spaniard has bigger goals this year than just keeping that streak alive.
Recari was one of three players to not miss a cut on the LPGA in 2012, although the other two (Jiyai Shin and Karrie Webb) played fewer events. Recari played in all 28 events on the LPGA Tour last season, which included trips to 13 different countries.
The 25-year-old, who began the 2012 year as No. 73 in the Rolex Rankings, has moved up 20 spots in the rankings over the past year. She captured a victory during her rookie year in 2010 at the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge but since then has been working to get back in the winner’s circle.
“Last year I take a lot of positives with making every single cut and I played every tournament,” Recari said. “That obviously gave me a lot of confidence because I was very consistent but I set up some high goals for this year. I finished T4 last week and I just want to be in contention more than I was last year and hopefully get some wins as well.”
Recari will give herself that opportunity to be in contention once again on Sunday this week following an even par 72 in the third round which has her just three shots behind the leader, Ariya Jutanugarn. Recari lamented the fact that she missed some shots in the wrong places which led to bogeys in unnecessary situations. But she’s pleased that she’ll once again have an opportunity to see if she can capture that second career victory.
“I think it’s just going to be a matter of making putts and not making too many silly mistakes,” Recari said. “I think today I just missed in the wrong spot and that cost me a few bogeys. Just got to learn from that and just tomorrow have to be a little bit smarter if the pins are as tough as today.”
Ladies First! This past week NASCAR driver Danica Patrick became the first woman to earn the pole position for the Daytona 500 race. The LPGA players may be currently over in Thailand for their event, but with the LPGA’s headquarters just down the road from International Speedway in Daytona Beach everyone was aware of the big news taking place in the sport of racing. So several LPGA players gathered in Thailand to take photos and film “Good Luck” messages to Patrick for the race on Sunday.
To see the “Good Luck” messages from LPGA players such as Paula Creamer (@ThePCreamer), Michelle Wie (@TheMichelleWie) and Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng), visit http://www.lpga.com/golf/blogs/2013/2/good-luck-danica.aspx.
Moving Day: Breezy conditions on Saturday morning at Siam Country Club made for some difficult scoring for the field in the third round. But there were a few players who were able to capitalize on moving day, including Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi who shot a 5-under 67.
Choi appeared to build off the momentum from her final nine holes on Friday. After shooting 40 on the opening nine in the second round, the South Korean native bounced back with an impressive bogey-free 31 on the back side. On Saturday, Choi carded seven birdies and two bogeys en route to shooting the low round of the day. That solid round moved Choi from a T33 into a T8 at 5-under-par.
Quotable: “Today, I chipped badly and I was not confident enough on my putting. I will fix that tomorrow“ – Ariya Jutanugarn on what she needs to do to win.
Of Note… Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng’s chances of a three-peat in Thailand appear to be nearly over. Tseng shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and sits in a T24 at 1-under-par…Only two eagles were recorded during Saturday’s third round. That number was down significantly from six eagles on Friday and five eagles on Thursday.
Q. How would you rate your performance in the 3rd round?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Front 9 was good, I bogeyed the 9th. Back 9 was incredible, I got 6 birdies but I did bogeyed a few holes as well. 15 hole was a short par 4, I could birdie it. If I hit a good drive, it would leave me about a half swing using a wedge. I don’t need to play a pop and stop, but unfortunately I did that. Then I topped a chip and miss a par putt. As a result of that I bogeyed the 15 hole.
I was too eager on the 17. I should use a 3 wood on the tee, instead of a driver. However, I pushed a drive to the right. I was in trouble, then I lost another stroke. 2nd shot on the 18 hole. My ball was in the rough. I was going to use a 5 iron, but I changed to a 4 iron. Then I over shot the green, another bad chip, miss another putt. I miss read a putt so I bogeyed another hole.
Q. Were you so hungry to score on the difficult holes?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Yeah, I guess so. I should do better than a 2 under. But I am happy with my overall result.
Q. What is your plan tomorrow?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Today, I chipped badly and I was not confident enough on my putting. I will fix that tomorrow.
Q. Did you have any pressure?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Yes. I did feel a lot of pressure early on. I felt the whole Thai people hope was on my back. After a few holes people starting to cheers me up, and that made all the pressure gone away.
Q. What do you think about Stacy’s game today?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: She did not play well today.
Q. Do you worry about any particular player who in the chasing pack?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: No, not at all. I just going to play my game tomorrow and fix my chip and putt. I should be okay.
Q. Who do you think could win?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: The tournament is not over, so anyone has a chance.
Q. The pin position will be tough tomorrow?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN: I am not worry too much, I going to stick to my game.
Q. Not quite the ending you wanted but overall a solid day. Take me through your round out there today. A lot of players were mentioning the more difficult scoring conditions out there today. Is that what you found?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yeah, definitely. On the front nine there were some tricky pins. The other nine it seemed like the greens were much faster. I don’t know if it was the wind but I probably missed some shots in the wrong place at the beginning and then on the back nine I made some birdies. I made a really good back to back birdie on 16 and 17, not the easiest holes on the course. So that gave me some momentum. Then I had a 360 degree lip out for par on 18. But overall I’m happy because at the beginning I started out a little not so strong but level par today I think is a good score.
Q. Level par put you within striking distance of the leader, Ariya Jutanugarn tomorrow. Is that always what you hope for going into Sunday?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yeah, definitely. I would love to be in the first spot but definitely we can reach. So I’m pretty confident for tomorrow and in a good position.
Q. What’s the biggest key tomorrow for you and your game to come away with a victory?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Well I think it’s just going to be a matter of making putts and not making too many silly mistakes. I think today I just missed in the wrong spot and that cost me a few bogeys. Just got to learn from that and just tomorrow have to be a little bit smarter if the pins are as tough as today.
Q. You were the iron woman last year, playing in every event and not missing a cut. Is that a goal for you again this year trying to be out there each week?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Last year I take a lot of positives with making every single cut and I played every tournament. That obviously gave me a lot of confidence because I was very consistent but I set up some high goals for this year. I finished T4 last week and I just want to be in contention more than I was last year and hopefully get some wins as well.