Jutanugarn sisters shoot for same goal, but differently

Jutanugarn sisters shoot for same goal, but differently

Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn hope their winning ways will continue, after both have collected LPGA victories. (Post Today photo)
Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn hope their winning ways will continue, after both have collected LPGA victories. (Post Today photo)

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN: Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

But the Thai sisters do have the same goal on the LPGA Tour, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins on Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's US Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

"Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. "That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analysing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

"It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. "But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they are also different. (continues below)

Moriya Jutanugarn watches her shot from the seventh tee during the second round of the LPGA Tour's HUGEL-JTBC LA Open golf tournament at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles. (AP photo)

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters on Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. The sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

"He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya said.

Even if he is relegated to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon must be proud of the way his daughters are playing. (continues below)

Ariya Jutanugarn celebrates after sinking a birdie putt to win the Kingsmill Championship on the second playoff hole against Nasa Hataoka in Williamsburg, Virginia. (AP photo)

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA Tour history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years at the HUGEL-JTBC Los Angeles Open tournament last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA Tour victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No.1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

"It's not that bad, like 10 weeks in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about eight kilometres from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it does not have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he is confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

"I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA Tour and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to convince them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

"We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. "We just don't know in what capacity.''

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