CHAMPIONS
Jutanugarn Makes History; Solid Showings at Baltusrol August 1, 2016 By Scott Lipsky, USGA

Ariya Jutanugarn became a major champion on Sunday, capturing the Ricoh Women's British Open. (USGA/JD Cuban)

Less than four months ago, three consecutive bogeys to close the ANA Inspiration turned a two-stroke lead and near-major victory into a disappointing fourth-place finish for Ariya Jutanugarn, but that all seems like ancient history now. Since falling short that first weekend in April, Jutanugarn, the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, reeled off wins in three consecutive LPGA Tour starts, finished one stroke out of a playoff in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and on Sunday, finally claimed that elusive major title in the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Jutanugarn, 20, posted an even-par 72 in the final round at England’s Woburn Golf Club to finish three strokes ahead of Mirim Lee and 2014 champion Mo Martin. The victory made Jutanugarn the first player from Thailand, male or female, to win one of golf’s major championships.

Thai won on! Ariya Jutanugarn wins the #RWBO16!

A photo posted by LPGA Tour (@lpga_tour) on

Jutanugarn headlined what was a strong showing for USGA champions at Woburn. Two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Karrie Webb finished tied for fifth, while 2015 Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun, 2011 Women’s Open champion Se Yeon Ryu and 2008 Girls’ Junior champion Lexi Thompson all tied for eighth.

Each of the first four women’s majors this year has been claimed by either a USGA champion or someone who has finished as the runner-up in a USGA championship. 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Lydia Ko captured the ANA Inspiration, 2014 Women’s Amateur runner-up Brooke Henderson won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and Brittany Lang, a co-runner-up in the 2005 Women’s Open, won the title last month at CordeValle.

U.S. Open Champions Appreciate Playing for Major Glory at Baltusrol

The final round of the 98th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., featured a duel down the stretch between eventual champion Jimmy Walker and defending champion Jason Day. Several U.S. Open champions, while not in serious contention, posted solid showings that gave them a chance to revisit their major victories.

Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, entered the weekend at The Olympic Club in San Francisco four years ago six strokes back with 36 holes to play, before a pair of 68s propelled him to a one-stroke victory over Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson. He found himself in a similar position through two rounds at Baltusrol, starting Round 3 seven strokes back before firing a 4-under-par 66, a round which was completed on Sunday morning due to Saturday’s weather suspension. Trying to mount another major rally, he shot a final-round 70 to settle for a tie for 13th.

“I thought I had a chance. I wanted to birdie 18 [Sunday] morning to be one shot closer, but I knew it was going to be a long stretch, I knew it was going to be tough,” said Simpson, who admitted to thinking back to his magical weekend at Olympic. “I played some great golf. I didn’t make the putts I wanted to make on this last 18, I hit a couple of bad shots, but overall it was a great week and I’m going to learn from it and get better.”

2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Saturday, enjoyed the atmosphere at Baltusrol, even if there was a little bit different feel to the final round than what he experienced at Merion Golf Club.

“It’s never as exciting when you’ve won a major championship and you know the buzz and the feel of being in contention and you’re in a situation like this, but every single round is important,” said Rose, who closed with rounds of 66-68 on the weekend to finish tied for 22nd. “What I have noticed is the reaction from the crowd in the Northeast. The win at Merion really resonated; I had great support out here this week.”

2014 U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer fired a final-round 66 to finish tied for seventh, while 2015 champion Jordan Spieth tied for 13th.

Scott Lipsky is the manager of websites and digital platforms for the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org

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