Ariya Jutanugarn hasn’t been used to waiting for wins since breaking through with five of them in 2016. The 22-year-old from Thailand added another two last year, but she didn’t have a win since last November before emerging from a three-way playoff with Nasa Hataoka and In Gee Chun at the Kingsmill Championship last weekend.
Jutanugarn, who often goes without a driver in her bag, had one in play for Thursday’s opening round but quickly found there wasn’t much use for it. “I hit like two holes and I felt like, oh, maybe [I won't carry one].”
Going driverless over the final 36 holes, Jutanugarn relied on a spectacular iron game that saw her hit 16 greens in regulation in each of the final two rounds. Jutanugarn uses a trio of TaylorMade utility irons for her long irons, and Titleist’s 716 AP2 irons for her 5-iron through pitching wedge along, with a trio of Titleist Vokey SM7 wedges. Her precision with her irons and wedges led to 20 birdies over the 54 holes of regulation, including six birdies on the par 3s.
In the playoff, she used her AP2 9-iron for both approach shots that led to birdies, the second being the clincher. The win was Jutanugarn’s second at Kingsmill, having also won the title in 2016. Her familiarity with the course certainly played a role in her victory.
“I'm going to say I love here, not because I won here two years ago, but I have great memories here,” Jutanugarn said. “I play here since I was 17. … Every time like when the season start I just really want to come back here and play this tournament.”
With two wins at Kingsmill in three years, it’s easy to see why.
What Ariya Jutanugarn had in the bag at the Kingsmill Championship:
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
3-wood: TaylorMade AeroBurner, 15 degrees
Irons (2-3): TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI; (4): TaylorMade RSi TP UDI; (5-PW): Titleist 716 AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Works Cruiser V-Line