Rising star Ariya to take swing at Olympics for Thailand
THAILAND'S new sweetheart Ariya Jutanugarn has set her sights on winning an Olympic medal after etching her name in the history books as the first Thai to hold a major title following her victory in the British Women's Open on Sunday.
The pig-tailed golfer, 20, who earlier this year penned a new chapter in history as Thailand's first winner on the LPGA Tour, carded a final round 72 and a 16-under par 272 to beat American Mo Martin and South Korean Lee Mirim by three strokes at the Woburn Golf and Country Club.
It marks her fourth career victory - and her fourth this season - after her maiden triumph in the 2016 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, Kingsmill Championship and LPGA Volvik Championship, all in May.
With two career dreams fulfilled - winning her first LPGA title and a major - she has now set a final goal for 2016 to bag an Olympic medal for Thailand.
After the recent win, she will rise from No. 6 to No. 2 in the world, the highest ranking of her career.
Meanwhile, back home in Thailand, her father Somboon said in an interview with a radio station that her feat was what he had expected.
"I knew she was going to win a major. I just hoped it would come a bit earlier," he added, laughing during the interview.
He said discipline and focus on her physical condition were the keys to her success.
Ariya was also made to focus on a fitness programme more than practising golf because Somboon believed physical strength was the basis for producing good results in sport.
"Once you are physically strong, you can bear lots of things. It's the bottom line.
"She was made to run and swim a lot in the old days.
"That's why she has broad shoulders and is quite a bit bigger than girls her age," he said.
As young Ariya was not a fan of jogging, Somboon said his old trick was to take her running near a cemetery.
"She would try to run faster to catch up with me because she was scared," he noted.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK