Thai sisters fire second 59 to capture LPGA pairs event

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Michigan

Ariya and Moryia Jutanguarn fired a second 59 in the best-ball format en route to victory at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

The Jutanugarn sisters had experienced just about everything together in golf – except winning.

With her sister in the water on the final hole, Ariya drained a 35-foot birdie putt from off the green to put a stamp on a three-stroke victory over defending champions Jasmine Suwannapura and Cydney Clanton. The players known as Mo and May finished at 24 under for the tournament.

“Of course we won this for Grace,” said Ariya, whose regular caddie Pete Godfrey was back in Dallas with 10-month-old daughter Grace, who was hospitalized with seizures and brain swelling during the Volunteers of America Classic. Godfrey is married to LPGA player Jane Park.

“He always put a smile on his face to make us happy,” said Ariya, “and he’s always like give us the best support, and he keep telling us, ‘You got this, go win for Gracie.’ And we did.”

The Jutanugarns birdied five consecutive holes from Nos. 9-13. Ariya birdied the last two holes to seal the tournament.

This is Ariya’s 12th career LPGA title and second of the season. Her victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand on May 9 snapped a drought that dated back to July 2018 (1,015 days).

This is Moriya’s second LPGA title and her first since April 2018. Ariya said the win with her sister tops every other of her career.

“I just really enjoy every moment this week,” said Moriya. This content is not available due to your privacy preferences. Update your settings here to see it.

After struggling in the third round of alternate shot, Ariya told Moriya the strategy in the final round was to birdie every hole.

At the start of the season, Ariya said, the sisters arrange their schedule around the Dow to make sure they get to play together.

While the support is evident, there’s also a bit of inner-competition to see who can make the most birdies each round.

“Still me,” said Ariya, jabbing her older sister. “No matter what, like she probably hit a few trees out there,” said Moriya, “but she still make a lot of birdies for me, so I forgive her. We very enjoy it.”

The winning team this week received the standard two-year winner’s exemption on the LPGA Priority List. CME points and prize money are official for the purposes of the current-year LPGA Official Money List and Race to the CME Globe Standings. Rolex Player of the Year points and Rolex Rankings points were not allocated.

When Clanton teamed up with Suwannapura two years ago, she was bouncing back and forth between the LPGA and Symetra Tours.

A victory at the Dow changed the course of her career. The pair closed with a 64 on Saturday to finish solo second.

“Jasmine and I just talked on the 18th green, man, we felt like we won this on,” said Clanton. “It was tough conditions today, it was windy, we didn’t think anybody would go super low, but Ariya and Moriya played great today, so they deserved it.”

Rookies A Lim Kim and Yealimi Noh tied for third with Pajaree Anannarukarn and Aditi Asok. The Korda sisters, who led after the opening round, tied for 17th.—AP

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