Wouldn’t it be something? If Moriya Jutanugarn holds onto the one-shot lead she carries into the final round of the Evian Championship, three players this year will have made their first LPGA victory a major. Danielle Kang and Sung Hyun Park captured their first at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open, respectively. Jutanugarn, a so-far-winless five-year veteran, would make it three out of five.
She would also make history by joining her younger sister, Ariya, as the only major-champion siblings on the LPGA.
“She won a major last year,” Moriya said of Ariya. “And of course we were really rooting for her. I’m really happy for her. But I also just tried to keep working on my game, to keep improving whatever I could. As I always say, my goal is to win my first tournament. But I don’t really have to push. I don’t say, ‘Oh, it has to be next week, or next month.’ I’m trying to put myself in a good position. When it’s my time, probably it will turn out good.”
So far, it has turned out well for Moriya in France. An opening round of 65 put her two shots off the lead. But solid putting on Saturday led to three birdies and a bogey on her first nine (the back) followed by two more birdies and another bogey on the back for a 9-under total, one clear of Japan’s Ayako Uehara.
Sunday will be a role reversal for the Jutanugarns. A year ago, it was Moriya who was out supporting her younger sister as Ariya captured five titles, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open and was the Player of the Year. This time Ariya, who missed the cut by a mile in Evian, will cheer for her sister down the stretch.
“To be honest, it probably doesn’t feel as bad if I’m playing golf as it does when I’m watching my sister play,” Moriya said when asked what made her more nervous.
As for how she will handle the pressure of trying to make history, the 23-year-old said, “I just want to keep doing what I do, play my game and focus on what I can, what is under my control. I think that’s very important for tomorrow.”
It certainly will help to have family in her gallery, as well as the support of a major champion. The fact that they are one and the same would make an Evian victory for Moriya even sweeter.