By THE NATION, AFP
LOS ANGELES - FORMER world No 1 Ariya Jutanugarn roared back to form yesterday, finishing a season’s best joint third at the Lotte Championship in Los Angeles. Despite ending with a double bogey on 18, the world No 2 signed off with a round of 73 for a total 11-under-par 277, five strokes behind the winner, Canada’s Brooke Henderson.
“I feel pretty good. I feel like everything is getting better than the last few months because I was thinking about the outcome too much, so right now it's getting a lot better,” said Ariya whose previous 2019 top 10 finish (tied eighth) was in February’s HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore.
The Thai ace was just two shots off the lead after 14 holes but a bogey on the 15th followed by a double bogey to finish pushed her back to third.
“It was tough, especially today as it was really windy, stronger than the first three rounds. Overall it was a good round except for the double bogey on the 18th,” said Ariya, who shared the third place along with Minjee Lee of Australia.
Ariya’s sister Moriya shot a total of 280 to land tied for ninth while Thai rookie Pajaree Anannarukarn followed a stroke behind in joint 12th, her best result on the Tour to date.
Henderson meanwhile captured her second consecutive Lotte Championship, winning her eighth LPGA title to match Sandra Post for the most all-time tour triumphs by a Canadian. Henderson fired a final-round two-under par 70 at Oahu’s Ko Olina Golf Club course to finish 72 holes in Hawaii on 16-under par 272 for a four-stroke victory over South Korea’s Ji Eun-hee.
Post, 70, claimed eight tour titles from 1968 through 1981.
“It’s amazing to be mentioned in the same sentence with Sandra Post,” Henderson said.
Henderson, 21, also equalled the best showing by any Canadian man on the US PGA Tour, with Mike Weir and George Knudson having each won eight career titles.
“It has just been surreal the last few years,” Henderson said. “It’s just really amazing to get this win to tie Sandra and Mike Weir too.
“I’m so happy. I’m just glad I could come out on top.”
Henderson, who shared the third-round lead with American Nelly Korda, won her first LPGA title at the 2015 Portland Classic as a qualifier. She won twice each in 2016, 2017 and 2018 with her lone major title coming at the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship.