Ariya Jutanugarn: Rising Star of the LPGA

Who’s the hottest golfer in the world right now? Jason Day? Jordan Spieth? Nope. It’s Ariya Jutanugarn.

The long-hitting 20 year old won for the third straight time on Sunday at the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., blowing the field away and setting a record for a player winning her first three events in the process. It’s a wonderfully redemptive story, too, having missed 10 straight cuts last year and actually becoming scared to hit the ball.

So just who is Jutanugarn? She’s a former top-ranked amateur from Thailand who became the youngest player ever at age 11 to qualify for an LPGA event at the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand. Her good play continued after turning pro in 2013, but a shoulder injury the same year from a fall chasing her sister around derailed her preordained rise to greatness. But a big boost to her confidence came at the year’s first major, the Dinah Shore, which she led after 69 holes, before Lydia Ko nipped at the finish line when Jutanugarn bogeyed the final three holes.

After her three straight wins, it doesn’t seem like anything can stop her now, however, with her booming drives and soft touch. Don’t be surprised if she wins for a fourth time this year at LPGA’s next major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, June 9-12 at Sahalee.