Ariya Jutanugarn, put simply, is a player unlike any other on planet earth at this moment.
Consider the following facts about this 22-year-old LPGA star from Thailand:
She’s No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings.
She has 10 LPGA Tour victories, two of them majors.
She won three tournaments this season.
She’s the No. 1 money winner ($2,667,983).
She’s No. 1 in the CME Globe points standings.
She has the tour’s best scoring average.
She has the most rounds under par this season.
She’s first in number of birdies made this season.
She’s second in eagles made.
She has the most rounds in the 60s.
She’s No. 1 in sub-par holes.
Okay, if that’s not impressive enough for you, consider she has 16 top 10s this season. She’s the LPGA Tour’s Rolex Player Of The Year. She’s the winner of the Annika Award for the best performance in all of their majors out there this past season.
Did we mention she’s only 22 years old?
That’s pretty mind-boggling in and of itself and she’s the favorite to capture the overall CME Globe Race down in Naples this week at Tiburon where the CME Tour Championship begins on Thursday.
Can you name anyone else, man or woman, who has had this sort of performance this season?
Impossible. Ariya is a player unlike any other, today, right now. All this and get this — she rarely, if ever, uses a driver. She’s so long she doesn’t have to.
Here’s where it gets scary for the rest — she’s getting better.
Jutanugarn (her nickname is May) is coached by the team at Vision 54. Vision 54 coached Annika Sorenstam throughout her career and here’s the Vision 54 take on this 22-year-old:
“Last year, when she reached outcome goals, like being No. 1, she felt the stress,” said Lynn Marriott, one of Jutanugarn’s Vision 54 performance coaches. “She wants to continue working on how to deal with that stressful feel.” Then Pia Nilsson, another of her coaches, added: “She is aware of herself and very honest about how she is feeling. She is like Annika like that.” Nilsson worked with Sorenstam starting when she was a teenager and she and Marriott coached her on Vision 54 throughout her Hall of Fame career.
“She’s still young, but she’s grown up a lot and she just keeps improving in all aspects of the game,” says Marriott. “She still has a little bit of the Annika syndrome of being uncomfortable in the spotlight, but as May gets more comfortable being deep in that focus – watch out. She’s learned a lot but we think she can go even deeper.”
The first thing you’ll notice about Jutanugarn is the constant smile while she plays. Good shot? Smile. Bad shot? Smile. It’s basically don’t worry be happy.
“I think the main key for me this year is I never think about the outcome,” is how Jutanugarn describes her mindset. “This year, Pia and Lynn asked my goal I said, ‘I want to be a happy golfer. I want to really enjoy myself with like every moment in my life, and that’s like who I want to be.’”
Now here’s where it gets to the heart of the matter, the heart of Ariya, if you will.
When asked about the most important thing when it comes to being the world’s No. 1, she presents this:
“I want to inspire all the kids in Thailand.”
Yes, she’s a player unlike any other.