Thailand’s Ariya Juta-nugarn has accomplished many feats in her golfing career.
The 23-year-old is nicknamed ‘May’ because she won her first three LPGA titles in May 2016 including the Kingsmill Championship last year.
She is currently the world No. 1 for 18 straight weeks now, won 10 times on the LPGA Tour including two Major victories, a two-time LPGA Player of the Year and the list goes on.
Interestingly, she has never won in Asia.
But a “dream” win in this continent beckons after she fired a flawless six-under 66 to seize a one-shot lead entering into the final round of the HSBC Women’s World Champion-ship here yesterday.
Ariya nabbed six birdies in the 11-hole stretch starting from the fourth and parred through the remaining four to finish on 11-under 205 after 54 holes at the Sentosa Golf Club.
“It’s one of my dreams since I started five years ago (playing on the LPGA Tour in 2015) to win in Asia,” said Ariya, who had three runner-up finishes in Asia including coming in second in Singapore in 2017.
Ariya is beginning to hit form following a slow start to the new season.
She was struggling to replicate her highly successful season last year that saw her won three titles as well as five top three finishes.
But with a packed leaderboard with the top nine separated by just four strokes, Ariya believes she must focus on one hole at a time if she wants to realise her dream today.
“I’ve been playing pretty good this week but one thing I have to keep doing is to just focus on the things I can control,” she said.
One opponent who could pose a threat to Ariya has to be world No. 3 Lee Min-jee, the hottest player in the last two weeks.
Min-jee, a runner-up at the LPGA Thailand last week, traded seven birdies against two bogeys for a 67 to trail Ariya by a stroke on 10-under 206.
England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff was a further shot back after signing for a 68 while second round leader Amy Olson of the United States could only manage a 71 to share fourth with South Korean duo Ko Jin-young , Kim Hyo-joo and Spaniard Azhara Munoz.
A confident Min-jee thinks she has what it takes to win her fifth LPGA Tour title today if she could drive the ball more consistently.
“I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m hitting it pretty solid,” said the Australian.
“I probably hit a couple drives here and there that I sort of sprayed a little bit.
“So if I can get that straightened out and hole a couple more putts then I think I’ll be all right.”