Golf

Ariya is world No. 1, for real this time

After last week's rankings boo-boo, Ariya is now guaranteed world No. 1 spot after win in Ontario

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand sank a monster birdie putt to win the Manulife LPGA Classic in a three-way play-off yesterday morning (Singapore time), guaranteeing her ascent to the world No. 1 ranking.

She put her right hand to her mouth in disbelief and then burst into tears after holing the 30-footer at the first extra hole to outlast American Lexi Thompson and South Korean Chun In Gee in Cambridge, Ontario.

Ariya's joy stood in stark contrast to the disappointment felt by Thompson, who frittered away a two-shot lead in regulation by three-putting the final two holes for two bogeys.

"I just can't believe I've won the tournament because when I got here I didn't feel comfortable hitting the golf ball," an emotional Ariya told Golf Channel.

"I was scared to hit my tee shot. (Now) I feel better."

Ariya carded a closing three-under-par 69 in breezy conditions at Whistle Bear, while Thompson shot 72 and Chun 70. They all finished at 17-under 271.

On the first play-off hole, Thompson looked to have recovered her composure when she crushed a long tee shot 50 yards further than Ariya and Chun.

Ariya, who had underhit her tee shot into the fairway rough, hit her second onto the green.

Both Chun and Thompson then missed long birdie putts, leaving Ariya with her shot at glory which she duly converted.

The result capped a roller-coaster week for the 21-year-old Bangkok native, who had wrongly been informed by the LPGA last week that she had taken the world No. 1 ranking.

The LPGA later revealed she had not in fact taken the top spot from New Zealand's Lydia Ko because of a rankings miscalculation.

Thompson meanwhile was left reflecting on her third defeat in a play-off this season after she looked to be cruising to her second title of the year.

Thompson, 22, had opened up a four-shot lead by the 11th hole.

But back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th holes gave her rivals hope before Thompson recovered with a birdie on the par-four 15th.

However, a three-putt on the par-three 17th set up a tense finale with Thompson one shot clear.

After making the green in regulation, the American was left with two putts to win.

But her birdie putt rolled up short, leaving her with a four-footer for victory which she then missed, setting up the play-off drama. - WIRE SERVICES

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