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Jutanugarn's Triple on 18 Hands Title to Park
Thailand teenager Ariya Jutanugarn was sailing along on the back nine Sunday at Siam Country Club's Pattaya Old Course thanks in part to an ace on the 12th hole. The 17-year-old was seemingly in the driver's seat en route to pulling off a popular victory in the $1.5 million Honda LPGA Thailand.
But then calamity hit. On the par-5 18th, her approach ended up in a greenside bunker. Unable to hit out, she took an unplayable lie and then thinned her sand shot over the green. After her chip shot came up short, she three-putted for a triple-bogey, losing the tournament by a stroke to Inbee Park.
Jutanugarn ended up with an even-par 72 and 11-under 277, while Park carded a 67 to reach 12-under 276. Park earned $225,000, and Jutanugarn missed out on her first professional win, settling for $140,305.
Despite her final-round meltdown, Jutanugarn - who could have forced a sudden-death playoff by making a 3-footer at the last for a double-bogey - put a positive spin on things. "It was a great experience," she said. "It's not like I just played not very good - she played very good today, and I just say congrats to Inbee. She's a very nice player."
Park, who completed her round before Jutanugarn and watched the goings-on, was shocked at how things turned out. "I just didn't expect this kind of finish," said Park, who now has four LPGA victories, including a win in the 2008 U.S. Open.
"But I really want to congratulate Ariya for her fantastic golf the last four days. She has a lot of fans out here, and she's very talented. So I think I'll be seeing more of her."
Finishing in a tie for third at 10-under 278 were two-time defending champion Yani Tseng - who closed with a 9-under 63, South Korean So Yeon Ryu (68), Spain's Beatriz Recari (70) and Stacy Lewis. Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, took the first-round lead with a 63 but followed with rounds of 69, 76 and 70.
Tseng hopes her hot round bodes well for the future. "Hopefully, next week I can start a little earlier and still finish strong," said Tseng, who started with an eagle on the par-5 opening hole and tacked on seven birdies the rest of the way.
"I feel like this is more like me," added the world's No. 1-ranked female player who, after recording three early wins, struggled in the latter half of 2012. "When I play my best, I always finish strong on the weekend. But last year at the end, on the weekend, I'm always struggling. But this is what I like to feel - to play aggressive and have fun and relax. Because today I go out there and I try to make birdie every hole."
Vying for her fourth win on a professional circuit, 15-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko ended up in a tie for 14th after closing with a 69. American Michelle Wie shot rounds of 74, 71, 71 and 75 for solo 45th place.
For all the scores, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.
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