SINGAPORE: World golf number one Ariya Jutanugarn will not only have to beat the rest of the world’s top 20 and a high-class field to win “Asia’s Major” this week — but more importantly her sister and roommate Moriya.
The battling Thai sisters on Wednesday lifted the lid on their sometimes tempestuous sibling rivalry as they prepared to battle for the US$1.5 million HSBC Women’s World Championship beginning Thursday in Singapore.
“She’s never been friendly to me, when we compete,” laughed the 24-year-old Moriya, currently ranked 19th, talking about her younger, top-ranked sister Ariya.
The Jutanugarns have been sharing a room in Singapore this week — as they always do when they travel to tournaments outside the United States — and like any siblings they bicker, almost constantly.
“We always fight over pretty much everything you can think of,” admitted Moriya.
Ariya added that family ties had been strained further at last week’s LPGA Thailand with the huge pressure of expectation on the pair in front of their home fans.
“We fought so bad before the tournament,” said the 23-year-old Ariya.
“We didn’t talk to each other before we go to bed, and then we woke up and we didn’t talk to each other again.
“I thought it was going to be so tough. But at the first tee, she talked to me, so I talked to her. So I wish we not do that again each week.”
Both revealed they were looking forward to their mother Narumon arriving on Friday, if only to clean up the “mess” in their hotel room which they blamed each other for.
Mum knows best
And like all mums, Marumon knows best how to keep a lid on simmering sisters before they boil over.
“When we play in the US we all get a house together and having mum there keeps us calm,” said Moriya.
“I can also close the door so I don’t have to get so close to my sister. Sometimes I need space.”
But this lifelong rivalry has brought its rewards.
Ariya claimed the US Women’s Open last June, her second major, as well as topping the LPGA Tour 2018 money list with earnings close to US$3 million.
Moriya won her first LPGA title at the LA Open which helped propel her into the top 10 — the first time two sisters had both been ranked in the world’s top 10.
The rise of the Thai sensations began when their father Somboon and mother Narumon turned their lifelong passion into a business, buying a golf shop in Bangkok in 2001.
It wasn’t long before a seven-year-old Moriya and five-year-old Ariya took to the fairways.
Fierce rivals on course, they are inseparable off it, and Moriya believes it has been a big factor in their continued success.
“We have always done everything together,” said Moriya.
“We picked up golf at the same time, a little bit of tennis and swimming. We always compete against each other. I think it makes us better.”
Moriya finished tied 10th in Thailand last week with Ariya, who finished a stroke behind, admitting she kept a close eye on her sister’s improving game as they were paired together in the final round.
“I haven’t played with her for so long,” said Ariya.
“I saw her game and I feel like, you’re such an amazing golfer. She hit 40 yards behind me and shot better than me. So I just want to learn from her.”