Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Smith fades, Jutanugarn leads Women's Open

Smith fades, Jutanugarn leads Women's Open

The 22-year-old Thailand native blew a lead in regulation at the U.S. Women's Open before beating South Korea's Hyo Joo Kim in a four-hole playoff at Shoal Creek, Ala.

Smith carded a second straight five-under 67 to move into 10 under at the Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club in Alabama. She was able to rest a few hours before getting back on the course and birdied two of the first three holes to immediately put pressure on Smith, who has never won on the LPGA Tour.

Former world number one Ariya roared past second round leader Sarah Jane Smith to finish with a 12-under 204 total as the tournament got back on schedule after heavy rains and lightning earlier this week resulted in a number of delays.

For Jutanargarn, its a chance for her ninth LPGA title, after winning at Kingsmill just two weeks ago, and her second major crown, after her 2016 Women's British Open win. Her 5-over 77, on the heels of a first-round 76, has her at 9 over, now five strokes on the bad side of the projected cut line.

Tiger Woods hit the ball well enough to be up there with them at Muirfield Village, except for missing five putts inside 7 feet.

"I haven't been in the position before, but I hope to show up like it's another day", Smith said.

But by the time thunderstorms and bad light forced an early halt to the day's play, with nearly half the field still on course at Shoal Creek, the cut line had dropped to four-over.

"I knew from the start it was going to be tight, " said Olesen, who entered the final round tied with Molinari one stroke behind Lee Slattery. We send videos and that, but there's something about in person that he seems to get a pretty good gist of what's going on even on the golf course.

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"I know everything's going to be the same and they're going to love me the same, " Jutanugarn said.

She couldn't quite complete the comeback, which would have been the biggest in the final round in U.S. Women's Open history.

Having worked with mental coach in Thailand for around two years, a positive mindset was the key to Jutanugarn's subsequent victory, secured after the fourth playoff hole. She nabbed two more birdies before the turn and another at the par-five third before her only bogey of the day, a three-putt at eight.

Anyone who watched surely enjoyed the affair, and they may also have been clued into a specific visual: Jutanugarn applauding successful shots made by Kim during their one-on-one playoff.

Korean Jeongeun6 Lee, the third golfer to shoot a 67 on Thursday, followed that up with a 3-over 75 on Friday, dropping her out of the top 10 at 2 under. "I'm happy with the way I'm playing".

"I hit a couple squirrelly shots (late in the round), but made some nice up-and-downs".

"'I normally do that", Jutanugarn said when asked about her mid-playoff applause.

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