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Brent Kelley

17-Year-Old Aces, Then Triple-Bogeys Lose LPGA Event By 1

By February 24, 2013

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A storybook ending instead became a nightmare finish for 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, who was trying to win the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament in her home country.

Jutanugarn led by three at the start of the final round. Following the 11th, she had fallen one behind Inbee Park - but then Jutanugarn holed out from the tee on the 145-yard 12th. A hole in one! And the lead was hers again.

Jutanugarn went three ahead of Park with a birdie on the 13th, bogied the 14th, then held her 2-shot advantage until the 18th. Park was already in the clubhouse at 12-under, and Jutanugarn was 14-under.

But things went badly awry on the final hole. Jutanugarn triple-bogied, dropped to 11-under, and Park had a 1-stroke win. Jutanugarn's triple included a penalty for an unplayable lie, chipping over the green, and leaving the return chip short of the green.

Had Jutanugarn held on, she would have become the third-youngest winner in LPGA history. In the past two years three of the six golfers in LPGA history to win before turning 19 have claimed their spots on that list:
  • 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko won the 2012 Canadian Women's Open, becoming the youngest-ever winner.
  • 16-year-old Alexis Thompson won the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic, at the time making her the youngest winner.
  • 18-year-old Jessica Korda won the 2012 Women's Australian Open.
Ariya and her sister, 18-year-old Moriya, were playing the Honda LPGA Thailand on sponsor exemptions. Moriya is an LPGA Tour member, finishing as co-medalist at the most recent Q-School. Ariya won the Ladies European Tour Q-School after her application for an age waiver from the LPGA was rejected.

For Park, it was a win in her first LPGA start of the season. She was the tour's money leader and scoring leader in 2012.

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