Ariya crowned LPGA player of the year

Ariya crowned LPGA player of the year

World No.1 and 2018 LPGA player of the year Ariya Jutanugarn. (AP photo)
World No.1 and 2018 LPGA player of the year Ariya Jutanugarn. (AP photo)

DAYTONA BEACH: Ariya Jutanugarn has earned the 2018 player of the year award for the second time in three seasons, the LPGA Tour said on Tuesday.

The announcement was made just one day after the long-hitting Thai made a return to the top spot of the world rankings for the third time.

With three events remaining on the 2018 LPGA Tour schedule, Ariya leads the player of the year award standings with 219 points, 83 ahead of second-placed Park Sung-Hyun of South Korea, and cannot be caught.

Australia's Minjee Lee is third, with 122 points, and Brooke Henderson of Canada is fourth, with 110.

"It feels great to win this award for a second time, and I'm really excited about that," said Ariya, a 10-time winner on the LPGA Tour who returned to the No.1 spot in the world rankings on Monday.

"I've played well this season and it's a huge honour for me to have my name on this trophy again. I would also like to thank my entire team. I am grateful to be working with all of them, and I am blessed to have my family and my sponsors who believe in me. I would also like to thank all my fans in Thailand. I am really proud to be from Thailand, and to win this prestigious award."

The 22-year-old from Bangkok has produced electrifying form on the LPGA Tour this year, winning three times and recording 12 additional top-10 finishes in 25 starts.

She claimed her first victory of the season in May at the Kingsmill Championship, then added a second just two starts later at the US Women's Open, where she edged out Kim Hyo-Joo after four extra holes to secure the second major title of her career.

Another win followed for Ariya at the Ladies Scottish Open in July, when she fired a five-under 66 in the final round to triumph by one shot over Lee.

With three events still to be played this season, Ariya leads the LPGA Tour in multiple statistical categories.

She heads the money list with US$2,459,240 in season earnings, is No.1 in scoring average at 69.379 and sets the pace in the CME Race to the Globe standings with 4,002 points.

She also leads the way with total birdies (421) and top-10 finishes (15).

Ariya will receive the player of the year award on Nov 15 at Tiburon Golf Club in Florida during the week of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

In 2016, Ariya clinched the player of the year award for the first time after a dominant season in which she led the tour with five victories and recorded 11 additional top-10 finishes.

She became only the second player to win the player of the year, Race to the CME Globe and the money title in the same season, emulating New Zealand's Lydia Ko in 2015.

Meanwhile, Ariya will try to win her fourth title of the year at the Japan Classic in Ibaraki which begins today.

She did not play last week and will make her fourth appearance in the tournament where she has finished in the top 10 in two of her previous three starts.

Also in the field are world No.3 Ryu So-Yeon, No.5 Lee, No.7 Lexi Thompson, No.8 Henderson, and No.9 and two-time defending champion Feng Shanshan.

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