SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Ariya Jutanugarn loves her 2-iron, and she’s using it to give herself a chance at winning a fourth consecutive LPGA start and her first major championship.
With a 3-under-par 68 Saturday, Jutanugarn moved two shots off the lead at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Most women don’t carry a 2-iron, and most have never even hit one.
“Laura Davies is the only other player out here I know who carries one,” said Les Luark, Jutanugarn’s caddie.
Jutanugarn doesn’t just carry a 2-iron; it’s her favorite club.
“I love my 2-iron so much,” Jutanugarn said. “I feel like I can control it, and I can hit it as hard as I want to hit it.”
Jutanugarn isn’t carrying a driver in her bag this week. She didn’t carry one when she won the Volvik Championship in her last start, either. She has a 3-wood in her bag, but she said she is hitting more 2-irons off the tees this week than any other club. She keeps that 2-iron in her bag whether she’s carrying a driver or not.
Even without a driver this week, Jutanugarn is ninth in the field in driving distance, averaging 251 yards per drive.
Jutanugarn, 20, didn’t start hitting 2-iron until last summer, when Luark encouraged her to give it a try. Jutanugarn struggled so much with her driver last year, it led to a slump, to her run of 10 consecutive missed cuts.
“She had a lot of confidence in her 21-degree 3-iron,” Luark said. “We were running out of options off the tee, but the 3-iron just didn’t go far enough.”
So Luark introduced Jutanugarn to an 18-degree TaylorMade UDI 2-iron, a club she didn’t feel like she had to steer.
“It’s something she could beat on, hit as hard as she could,” Luark said.
Jutanugarn had an emergency replacement for her 2-iron shipped to Sahalee Country Club earlier this week when weighting in the cavity insert came loose.
Jutanugarn won the Yokohama Tire Classic for her first LPGA victory in May, won the Kingsmill Championship in her next start and then the Volvik Championship. She’s the only player to win three consecutive starts as her first three LPGA titles.