Sister act: Jutanugarns fueled by family bond

By Randall MellJune 7, 2016, 10:58 pm

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – You could call her Ariya Jutanugarn’s guardian angel.

Or her trusted guide.

Or just her big sister.

Moriya Jutanugarn has been all of those through Ariya’s emergence as the newest star in the women’s game.

With Ariya trying to win a fourth consecutive LPGA start at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Moriya won’t be at her side the entire way. Moriya will be among the contingent at Sahalee Country Club trying to stop Ariya’s winning streak, but if she can’t, she’ll be in the wings rooting on Ariya as she always is.

When Ariya broke through to win for the first time at the Yokohama Classic last month, Moriya and their mother, Narumon, were both greenside to hug Ariya in the end.

“When I look up and see them, it makes me stronger,” Ariya said. “I want to make them happy.”

Thailand’s Jutanugarns are a unique team that Ariya is drawing strength from in this bold run. At 21, Moriya is 16 months older than Ariya. Moriya goes by the nickname Mo and Ariya by May.

“The love between Ariya, Moriya and their mother is a beautiful thing,” says Vision 54s Pia Nilsson, who teams with Lynn Marriott as the sisters’ performance coaches.

It’s difficult to bump into Moriya without seeing May.

“They don’t always play practice rounds together, but off the course they are with each other every waking moment,” says Les Luark, Ariya’s caddie.

Mo and May have been a team since the day their father first put golf clubs in their hands. Mo was 7 and May was 5½. They learned to play growing up at Garden Rose Golf’s driving range in Bangkok, where their father owned a pro shop.

“We didn’t have toys growing up,” May said. “We had golf clubs.”

Back then, they were practically the same size with the same look.

“People thought we were twins,” Mo said.

They grew up on that driving range, but don’t get the idea they are products of domineering parents who pushed the game on them and still call the shots, because these parents don’t. Their father, Somboon, is retired and living back in Thailand. He isn’t involved in the details of their golf games anymore. Narumon, who goes by the name “Apple,” travels with her daughters. She’s an attentive mother, but she doesn’t get involved in their golf beyond cheering.

“Mom helps with everything,” Mo says. “She does laundry for us, she packs for us, but she doesn’t really know anything about golf. She’s supportive, and she’s great doing mom stuff, but when it comes to our golf, she lets us make our own decisions, who we want as coaches and things like that.”

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As the big sister, Mo is a confidant and trusted advisor to May.

“I’m proud seeing them help each other on and off the course,” Apple said through a translator. “This isn’t something that just happened. They were taking care of each other long before their AJGA years, giving each other advice on how to get better. I’m so appreciative seeing them as good people, loving each other, pursuing their dreams with determination. They’re gifts from God.”

While Mo says their father originally coached them on that range in Bangkok, she says he was busy in the shop mostly and they got a lot of their instruction from regulars on the range who would come over and offer tips. They didn’t have a real coach until Mo was 13 and May was 11. That’s how old May was when she qualified for the Honda LPGA Thailand, becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for an LPGA event.

While Mo has yet to win on tour, she is an accomplished player in her own right. She was the LPGA’s Rookie of the Year three years ago. She’s poised to qualify with her sister on the Thailand team playing in the UL International Crown.

Mo is the classic older sibling. She’s the planner, organizing and setting agendas. May? She’s the carefree prankster.

“May is always messing with me,” Mo said. “She knows I like things neat, so she enjoys coming in, jumping on my bed and throwing my clothes all over the places after I’ve folded them. Then she’ll say, `Yes, this looks much better.’”

May enjoys being the baby sister.

“My mom and Mo take care of me,” May cracks with a mischievous grin. “I don’t have to do anything.”

Candie Kung and Anna Nordqvist, LPGA veterans, know how important the Jutanugarn sisters are to each other. With May on the back nine trying to close out her first victory at the Yokohama Classic last month, they saw Mo in the clubhouse after Mo finished her round. They could see Mo was a nervous wreck over May’s chances, and that Mo wanted to race out on the course to watch May play the back nine. Kung and Nordqvist talked her out of it. They knew the sister bond might be too strong.

“May’s going to see and feel how nervous you are,” Kung told Mo. “You better stay in here, watch on TV and after she hits her tee shot at the 18th, we’ll go out.”

They did, with Mo so nervous she asked to hold Kung’s hand with May putting for the win.

“They’re so close, they seem like twins,” Kung said. “They’re just good, humble, hard-working people. I’ve been out here for 15 years, and I’ve seen a lot of young girls come out acting like they’re somebody. You don’t see that with Mo and May. Even with May winning three times in a row, you don’t see that. I don’t think you can find anyone out here who doesn’t like them.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”