WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — Ariya Jutanugarn arrived at Kingsmill Championship with no expectations, and it was a strategy that paid off handsomely.
The 22-year-old Thai star birdied the second hole of a playoff Sunday to win the LPGA Tour event for the second time in three years.
“I’m going to say I didn’t expect anything this week because I think I have been playing ... very good like the last few tournaments and I’m still not winning the tournaments,” she said. “So show up this week, I just tell myself I’m not going to expect anything. I’m going to really focus on the things under my control and make sure I’m going to have good commitment every shot.”
“When I’m thinking about winning, I never win,” Jutanugarn said. She became the 12th winner in as many events on the tour this season.
Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.
Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. The 19-year-old Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly from just off the back of the 18th green before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory.
“I couldn’t believe I played in a playoff in such an early stage in my career,” Hataoka said. “I’m just going to try to keep going for the rest of the year.”
Jutanugarn’s older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory
Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and used a stretch of five birdies in six holes to build a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th,, one of the easiest holes on the course.
“After that I got a little bit mad, but my caddie just told me ... we can’t go back and change anything,” she said. “All we can do is just what we have now. Try to hit a good shot.”
Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.
It was the eighth top 10 finish of the season for Jutanugarn, the only player on the women’s tour to have made the cut in every event she’s played.
It was the fourth playoff in the history of the tournament.
The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.
Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.
“I was in the groove and I felt like I could make birdies and I could make a charge, so I was really happy I was able to do that,” Henderson said.