Ariya Jutanugarn falters late, has 2-shot lead in Canada
PRIDDIS, Alberta (AP) — Ariya Jutanugarn missed a chance to take a big lead into the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, making two late bogeys Saturday at Priddis Greens.
A week after withdrawing from the Rio Olympics because of a left knee injury, the 20-year-old Thai player bogeyed the par-4 16th and par-5 18th for a 5-under 67.
“Feeling good,” Jutanugarn said. “I mean, I had two bogeys the last three holes, but I still shot 5 under, so it’s still good.
At 17-under 199, she had a two-stroke advantage over South Korea’s In Gee Chun.
“I keep the eye on me,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m not really care like who the leader is, like what I say yesterday. I really want to play my game and be happy on the course.”
Jutanugarn won the Women’s British Open in the event before the Olympics to tie Lydia Ko for the LPGA Tour victory lead with four. After a late meltdown in the major ANA Inspiration in April, Jutanugarn picked up the nickname “May” with three straight victories in the breakthrough month.
“After I won my first tournament, I kind of know how I play under pressure, so I know when I get really excited what I have to do,” Jutanugarn said.
Hitting 2-iron and 3-wood off the tee on the driving holes, Jutanugarn had seven birdies in an 11-hole stretch Saturday on the tree-lined layout.
Chun shot a 66.
“I could see the putting lines very well,” said Chun, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open champion. “I was so good at rolling the ball on those lines, and I made really good up-and-downs today. Those really got my game going.”
South Korea’s Sei Young Kim and Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow were 12 under. Kim had a 68, and Meadow shot 69.
“Hitting fairways is key,” said Meadow, a former Alabama player. “The rough is pretty penal, especially with the greens being so firm, so if you can hit the fairways there’s a lot of wedges into holes here, and if you can kind of dial in your yardages, you’re going to make some birdies.”
Three-time champion Ko was tied for 10th at 10 under, and Canadian star Brooke Henderson was nine strokes back at 8 under.
“I hit the ball really solid and I gave myself so many looks at birdies, but really not one of them dropped,” Ko said after a 70. “When you’re having those kind of days, it’s really hard for you to go low. It was a little bit of a struggle with the putter.”
Ko won the event three of the last four years, the first two as an amateur. The 19-year-old New Zealander won in 2012 at Vancouver Golf Club at 15 years, 4 months to become the LPGA Tour’s youngest winner and fifth amateur champion. She successfully defended her title in 2013, winning by five strokes in Edmonton. Last year back at Vancouver as a pro, she beat Stacy Lewis in a playoff.
Henderson shot her second straight 68 after opening with a rain-delayed 72.
“I felt way better today, and I think feeling the energy from my massive crowds has definitely really helped that,” the 18-year-old Henderson said. “Through bad shots and good shots, they’re supporting me and giving me a little bit of extra energy and positive vibes. That’s really helped me the last two days.”
Henderson beat Ko in a playoff in June in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title, and successfully defended her Cambia Portland Classic title last month.
Alena Sharp topped the five Canadians to make the cut in the national championship, shooting a 67 to move into a tie for fifth at 11 under with Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (66), South Korea’s Ha Na Jang (67), Amy Yang (68) and Chella Choi (69).
“Started off kind of ugly,” Sharp said. “I was not hitting it well the first nine holes, but I hung in there. I think that’s something that’s gotten better with my game is when it’s not good, I realize, ‘OK, just keep grinding away, it’s going to change.’” And the last six holes were great.”