Ariya pre­pares Open de­fence with driver safely in locker

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ST ANDREWS: Ariya Ju­tanu­garn may be fight­ing a cold but mem­o­ries of her women’s Bri­tish Open win are keep­ing her warm as she pre­pares for her ti­tle de­fence this week at Kings­barns.

The 21-year-old from Thai­land won the ma­jor ti­tle by three shots over the tree-lined Woburn course - and she knows she faces a vastly dif­fer­ent chal­lenge at the wind swept Scot­tish links.

But one thing won’t change from 12 months ago. The driver will not be in the bag.

The pow­er­ful young­ster didn’t use the golfer’s big­gest weapon last year and she said: “This time it will also stay in the locker. I’ll be us­ing my three wood and my two iron from the tee.

“This is only my third time at a links course. But I know I’ll have to keep the ball low and some­times aim 50 yards right or 40 yards left.”

Ariya spent a brief spell as the world No.1 when she won the Man­ulife LPGA Clas­sic in Cam­bridge, On­tario last month.

But she has since strug­gled slightly with a shoul­der in­jury and has dropped to No.3 be­hind Ryu So Yeon and Lexi Thomp­son.

“It’s get­ting bet­ter, but I’ve now got a ter­ri­ble cold,” she said, cough­ing and splut­ter­ing. “It started Satur­day and has got worse.”

She ad­mits her life has changed dra­mat­i­cally since be­com­ing the first Thai golfer to win a ma­jor.

“Ev­ery­one back home is very proud,” she said. “I won an award at the end of the year and now ev­ery­one knows me.”

This is her first visit to St Andrews, the Scot­tish town re­garded as the Home of Golf. But her sis­ter Moriya, who played in the Women’s Bri­tish Open over the Old Course four years ago, has been the per­fect tour guide.

“It is a very special place and it’s cool to be here,” said the five time LPGA win­ner. “My sis­ter took me round the 17th and 18th at the Old Course. It was ev­ery­thing that I ex­pected.”

Olympic cham­pion Park In­bee won the ti­tle, and com­pleted a ca­reer Grand Slam of the ma­jors, at Turn­berry two years ago, and is aim­ing to make it a Scot­tish dou­ble.

She missed last year’s Open due to in­jury, but bounced back to win Olympic gold in Rio.

“It’s good to be back,” ad­mit­ted the 29-year-old South Korean. “I played in the Scot­tish Open at Dun­don­ald last week and took a trip back to Turn­berry. I had some great mem­o­ries.

“My ball strik­ing is not where I want it to be, but I al­ways love the chal­lenge of a links course. Some­times I play well, and some­times I don’t get it. It’s a mind set. You have to be pre­pared to be frus­trated.” AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.