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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 205
F OR all the star-gazing going on around Lydia, Inbee, Lexi, Brooke & Co., there was always going to be an opening for another player to join the top echelon of women’s golf. The ladies don’t subscribe to all the ‘Big’ talk that’s engulfed the male side of the pro game for most of this year in a bid to group the dominant players, backhandedly shelving the rest in the process. Instead, they let the natural ebb and flow of the week in, week out LPGA schedule determine the best among them at any given moment. Enter Ariya Jutanugarn, who’s enjoyed plenty of magical moments in the past three months. The 2016 season will go down as the year Ariya joined the party. A gifted teenager who would have won on the LPGA circuit as a 17-year-old had she taken six swings and not eight up the par-5 last hole of the LPGA Thailand event in 2013, she appeared to sink into the mire that claims too many bring young talents in that they ultimately become merely ‘good’ and not ‘great’. As can often be the case, it was a nadir moment that dragged Jutanugarn upward. Leading the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, in April, Jutanugarn nervously kicked away her chances over the closing stages with a series of impromptu and unlikely bogeys that opened the way for Lydia Ko to steal the title. The loss hurt – but not for long. By early May, she rebounded to at last win an LPGA Tour event with a one-stroke victory at the Yokohama Tyre event in Alabama. A fortnight later, she was at it again, edging Australia’s Su Oh by the same slender margin to take out the prestigious Kingsmill Championship. And a week later she obliterated the field at the Volvik Championship to make it three wins in three starts – the first player in LPGA history to do so for their first three titles. Ariya was singing the sweetest of melodies. Now Jutanugarn is a major winner, less than four months after it looked as though she might have been. THE 2016 SEASON WILL GO DOWN AS THE YEAR ARIYA JOINED THE PARTY.
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GA Express 206