SHOAL CREEK, AL – JUNE 03: Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand plays a tee shot on the eighth hole during the final round of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek on June 3, 2018, in Shoal Creek, Alabama. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
By E. Michael Johnson
Ariya Jutanugarn has made playing without a driver fashionable. And as you might expect from someone who has 12 clubs that are irons or wedges in her bag, it was those clubs that propelled her to her second major title at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Jutanugarn appeared poised to cruise to victory, holding a seven-shot lead as she headed to the final nine, but made triple bogey 7 on the par-4 10th hole to allow Hyo-Joo Kim an opportunity to make things interesting. Kim did just that with birdie bombs of 35 and 50 feet on the 12th and 15 holes to narrow the margin to one, before Jutanugarn nailed a 7-iron on the 197-yard, par-3 16th hole to three feet and a clutch birdie, extending the lead to two. But Jutanugarn bogeyed the final two holes, creating a two-hole aggregate playoff, which went two holes beyond that before Jutanugarn was able to win with a nifty up-and-down par save from the greenside bunker, giving her another major title to go with the 2016 Women’s British Open.
Jutanugarn’s iron set is an interesting one, consisting of a pair of TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI driving irons and the company’s RSi TP UDI driving iron for her 4-iron. Her 5-iron through pitching wedge are Titleist’s 716 AP2 model and she carries a trio of Titleist Vokey SM7 wedges.
For the week, the 22-year-old from Thailand hit 52 of 72 greens in regulation for a 72.2 percent clip, ranked T-3. More importantly, she did so consistently, hitting 14, 13 13 and 12 greens in regulation in each of the four rounds, respectively.
Even so, Jutanugarn needed to rebound in the playoff to avoid a collapse reminiscent of Arnold Palmer at the 1966 U.S. Open. Jutanugarn managed to come up with some clutch par saves with her Titleist Vokey SM7 wedges, however, to take the title.
What Ariya Jutanugarn had in the bag at the U.S. Women’s Open
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
3-wood: TaylorMade AeroBurner, 15 degrees
Irons (2-3): TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI; (4): TaylorMade RSi TP UDI; (5-PW): Titleist 716 AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Works Cruiser V-Line