JUTANUGARN IS GOLF’S HOTTEST PLAYER
Ask a group of knowledgeable golf fans the name of 2016’s hottest golfer in the world and you’d be amazed at the wide variety of names you might hear. Is it world No. 1 Jason Day, who ascended to the top of the men’s rankings last spring after winning three times in a six-tournament span, including a title at the Players Championship? Is it Dustin Johnson, who won the U.S. Open and had the Big 3 renamed the Big 4 as a result? Is it Justin Rose, who won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics? Maybe it’s a woman? Yes, in- deed, it is a woman. But it’s not teenager Lydia Ko, the No. 1 ranked female in the world, nor is it fellow teen Brooke Henderson, the thirdranked female who is No. 1 in the hearts of all Canadian golf fans. No, the hottest golfer in the world this year has been Thailand’s 20-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn (Joot-AN-uhgarn), who has absolutely dominated the Ladies Professional Professional Golfers’ Association scene since the first week of May. She won three successive tournaments in May, followed by a third-place finish, three rela- tive off-weeks (two top 20s and a 44th) before rebounding for a runner-up finish at the Marathon Classic and a major championship victory at the women’s British Open. At Rio, Jutanugarn was leading after 18 holes before suffering a knee injury and pulling out. The injury wasn’t too serious, though, because within a week, she was competing, and winning, at the CN Canadian Women’s Open at Calgary. If you’re keeping track, that’s five wins, a second and a third in 10 events. “I always said it would be scary if she ever realized how good she is,” Jutanugarn’s friend and mentor Christina Kim, told SI.com’s Alan Shipnuck. “Well, it’s here, and as expected, it’s pretty damn frightening.” Aria and her sister Moriya, daughters of golfing parents who run a golf pro shop in Bangkok, were pre-teen and teen golf phenoms almost a decade ago. Ariya played in an LPGA event in Thailand at age 11 and racked up five top-four finishes in LPGA and Ladies European Tour events by the time she was 13. But a shoulder injury in 2013 stalled her progress and in 2015, her game was shoddy, with 10 consecutive missed cuts on the LPGA Tour. But that was then. Now? It won’t be long before golf fans around the world will actually be able to properly pronounce her name.
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Bills defensive end IK Enemkpali — the guy who punched ex-Jets teammate Geno Smith a year ago, breaking his jaw — is out for the season after tearing his ACL during Buffalo’s first exhibition game. But no, IK isn’t short for Instant Karma.”
• Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald: “The Cleveland Cavaliers extended the contract of coach Tyronn Lue for five years. This is, of course, subject to LeBron James’ weekly review.”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on what coaches around the world would say if they took their cue from Donald Trump: “The only way we lose this game is if the other side cheats and the system is rigged.”
• Comedy writer Jim Barach on a study claiming that bronze-medal winners have happier reactions than those winning silver: “To which Michael Phelps says, ‘The Olympics have a bronze medal?’ ”
• Greg Cote again: “A gameworn Stephen Curry mouthguard sold for $3,190 at an auction. Proving true the old P.T. Barnum adage, “There’s a sucker with $3,190 born every minute.”
• Sports talk show host Colin Cowherd, on Twitter: “Nobody gets to the truth like Ryan Lochte on his fourth attempt.”
• NBC’s Seth Meyers, checking the final Olympic tally: “The U.S. brought home 46 gold medals, 37 silver and four idiots.”
• Dwight Perry again: “Ryan Lochte’s return to commercial endorsements? Our money’s on one of those Southwest Airlines ‘Want to get away?’ ads.”
• Comedian Argus Hamilton, on how Olympians’ lives are different from ours: “Late last night, Michael Phelps found an Olympic gold medal in his couch cushion.”
• TC in BC: “The U.S. 4 x 100 men’s relay team didn’t win its appeal. On the other hand they stopped short of saying they were robbed in Rio.”
• Another one from Cote, on Twitter: “Ryan Lochte reportedly will be featured in the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars. He previously starred in Dancing Around the Truth.”
• Brad Dickson again: “A Chinese silver medal-winning men’s diver proposed to the female silver medal-winning diver from China. I predict they’ll have the second-best marriage in the world.”
• TBS late night comedian Conan O’Brien: “It’s been reported that after winning three gold medals in Rio, Usain Bolt was caught cheating on his girlfriend. More impressive, he was also found with another woman just 14 seconds later.