Ariya says No. 1 ranking not top priority

ariyaMICHIGAN: Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn says she won’t put extra pressure on herself to regain the number one world ranking she held for two weeks in June.

“To me, it’s not that important, because of course everybody wants to be world number one,” Ariya said Wednesday as she prepared for Thursday’s start of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in Oneida, Wisconsin.

“I think the most important thing right now is just (to) go out and have fun and be happy on the course and make sure I have a really good commitment.”

At number two in the world, Ariya is the top-ranked player in the field for the inaugural edition of the tournament.

She arrives in Wisconsin after missing her first cut of the season at the Women’s PGA Championship, where her six-over par 77 in the opening round proved too much to overcome.

Ariya said she’d found positives to take from that week, in particular her improvement to a three-under par 68 in the second round.

“I know I had a bad day on Thursday, but I had a really good day on Friday,” she said. “I’m really proud of myself to be trying to do my best and play better golf on Friday and be working on the same things.”

The 21-year-old was hailed as a hero in Thailand after supplanting New Zealand’s Lydia Ko atop the world rankings last month.

She did it in style, sinking a 25-foot birdie putt to win the Manulife LPGA Classic in a playoff.

But her reign was short, as South Korean Ryu So-Yeon took over the top spot two weeks later.

“All the Thai people, they give me great support, even if I play bad or I play good,” she said.

“I’m pretty sure they love to see my world ranking be really good, but also, if not, I know they are going to give me full support.”

While Ariya has nine top-10 finishes this season, including her Manulife win and three runner-up finishes, she says competition on the LPGA tour this season is fierce.

“I think this year is really, really competitive,” she said. “Even when I played great golf, I still finished second or third. But it’s fun. It’s more fun because a lot of girls start to play so good and they become amazing golfers.”