Two-time major winner and defending Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn is back in Scotland this week and has had her first look at The Renaissance Club.
The 23-year-old world No.5 from Bangkok said it was playing fast, firm, and very tough this morning, much like when she won at nearby Gullane 12 months ago, which was her first victory on a links course.
“I don’t really like links golf and it’s not because of the courses, but because it’s so tough for me,” the former World No.1 said. “When I came back here, I said to my caddie, ‘It’s so tough, but he said, ‘just be patient.’”
Jutanugarn has 11 professional victories to her name, including two major titles: the 2016 Women’s British Open and 2018 US Women’s Open. She had a hot streak of three consecutive top 5s coming into last week’s AIG Women’s British Open, where she ended T11th, but is yet to register her first title of 2019.
She said that she is not focusing on defending the trophy but improving her game and managing her work-life balance in this, her seventh year on tour. (Her rookie year on the LET was 2013).
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, she said: “I would say that one of the big goals this year is not about winning a tournament but how to manage myself and balance myself, with golf and life. I feel much better and am getting much better, but I still have so many things to work on, especially my commitment. When you get close to winning a tournament, you start thinking about the outcome and start to not play well, not good enough to win the tournament, so I’m thinking about the outcome too much.”
“When I play not good, I just feel bad and I feel like everything is just bad; I’m not happy at all. I have to separate or manage my life better, so even when I play bad, I still can be happy, because I know the people around me are going to keep supporting me. I’m going have my sister and I’m going to have my mum anyway. The way you say, I have to manage my life, I have to understand that no matter how I play, I still can be a happy person.
“I just learned this the last few months, and I’m getting more happy when I spend time with my sister and my mum, doing something else, I realised that my golf is better, too.”
Jutanugarn’s week started by driving past Gullane on the way to North Berwick, where she went supermarket shopping with her mum and sister, Moriya, who is also playing in the Scottish Open this week.
“We walked like two or three miles yesterday and carried a lot of stuff back to the house. I just feel like normal. So this week, my sister is going to cook, and I know she going to have fun and I’m just waiting for her to cook for me. I have no clue how to cook. I just eat. My mum cleans. My sister cooks. All I do is just watch dramas and eat.”
Now that Jutanugarn has found her happy place, the rest of the field will be looking over their shoulder.