Rain plays havoc at U.S. Women’s Open

Sarah Jane Smith

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn had to overcome an abbreviated Wednesday practice round to fire a five-under-par 67 and grab a share of the opening round lead at the rain-hit US Women's Open on Thursday.

"When they don't play well", Meechai said, "they keep each other fighting".

Paul Azinger, the 1993 PGA Championship victor, said Ariya's confidence would have taken a real blow had she not found a way past Kim Hyo-joo in the playoff. She also became the first two-time victor in 2018 as the first 13 events of the season were won by different players.

But after a long wait on the tee at the par-three 16th which she spent calmly sitting against her golf bag, Jutanugarn hit a majestic shot to three feet for another birdie.

Lee had a marvelous final round on Sunday to force the extended play, but then shot two bogeys in the playoff situation.

"It ended up pretty good, so I'm okay now", she said of the challenging week. Kim's shot out of the bunker was decent, but Jutanugarn's was phenomenal, rolling to within a foot of the hole and setting up an easy par putt. "I don't think I could have played any better out there", Oh said.

Despite shooting 41 on the final nine, despite an opponent who gave no quarter until the fourth playoff hole when her putter finally ran out of magic, despite looking as if all her mojo was already gone to Mobile, Jutanugarn had a gold medal around her neck and a sliver trophy by her side Sunday evening.

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"I'm really honoured to join the list of winners before me". Her confidence shaken, she had another bogey on 12 and the tournament was suddenly much closer than anyone expected.

After sharing the overnight lead, Smith quickly took advantage of benign early conditions to pick up five birdies on her outward half at Shoal Creek. She won the Women's British Open in 2016 and is coming off a victory at the Kingsmill Championship in May.

"Unfortunately, I needed to withdraw from the U.S. Women's Open for personal reasons and am headed home to be with my family", Henderson said on her Twitter account.

"After you have a seven-shot lead and end up having to go to a playoff, I had no expectations", she said. "She will learn a lot from last time". She missed the cut in five straight tournaments before tying for 32nd last week at the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Kim had represented formidable opposition for Jutanugarn. The Korean had been a prolific victor in her homeland before taking seamlessly to the LPGA Tour. So it's nice to feel like I'm seeing the greens really well and seeing some putts go in. My scoring has been improving, especially it's gotten better with the majors lately.

"(The week) really surpassed any expectations (I had)". Michelle Wie was among those alongside the Englishwoman at even par.

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