CHASKA, Minn. – Ariya Jutanugarn is trying to quit tying her happiness to results.
She thinks it will free her up on and off the course.
It seems to be working.
Jutanugarn is in contention at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where a 4-under-par 68 Saturday moved her one shot off the lead.
“I'm really happy about how I played the last three days, because I feel so free,” Jutanugarn said.
Jutanugarn, 23, swept every important LPGA honor last year, taking the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the Race to the CME Globe and the LPGA money title. She won three times, but she said she has struggled with expectations trying to repeat that performance this year. She’s looking to win her 11th LPGA title, her first this year. She’s looking to win her third major.
In her larger life, Jutanugarn is looking for contentment outside a bad score. She’s working with Vision 54’s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott to find that.
“I just feel a lot of expectations, not from others, but myself,” she said. “I talk to Pia and Lynn almost every day the last few months, because I feel like I lost who I am, or who I want to be. The last few months, I realize that life and golf are different. I would say the last few months, I’ve learned a lot.”
She is learning not to take bad rounds home with her.
“It's so tough for me to be happy,” Jutanugarn said of how a bad round affects her. “I felt like, I have to say, that golf is life, because every time I play badly, I start to be unhappy. I start to be disappointed, and I have to learn and know that golf and life are different.
“Even if I play badly, I still have the best family. My sister is always going to support me. My mom is going to always support me.
“And when I know that, everything is just so happy.”