(Reuters) - Ariya Jutanugarn became the first in LPGA Tour history to claim her first three victories in successive tournaments, cruising to a five-shot win at the inaugural Volvik Championship in Michigan on Sunday.
On the heels of wins earlier this month in Alabama and Virginia, the rising Thai star closed with a bogey-free 67 for a 15-under total of 273 and a big win over American Christina Kim (71) at the Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor.
Canadian Brooke Henderson (68) and American Jessica Korda (72) finished equal third at nine-under.
Ariya, 20, is the first to win three in a row on the LPGA Tour since South Korean Park In-bee in 2013.
With the remarkable run, Ariya has her sights set on winning a major. She will have her chance at the Women’s PGA Championship in suburban Seattle in a fortnight.
The long-hitting Ariya did not hit her driver all week because of the fast and firm conditions at Travis Pointe.
“I mean, when I see the course, I just feel like it’s really hard for me because I can’t hit my driver and I really have to have a good game plan,” Jutanugarn told reporters.
“So to be honest, first time I see it, I think this course is hard and I don’t think I‘m going to win, I just really want to do my best.”
Ariya began the final round with a one-shot lead over Kim and Korda and distanced herself from her challengers with birdies at 13, 14, 16 and 17.
Kim, who birdied her final hole to move into solo second, her best finish since winning in Mexico City in 2014.
But the week belonged to Ariya, who less than a month ago had gained a reputation as a player who could not close the deal, after blowing a couple of excellent victory chances with late meltdowns.
She broke through nervously by sinking a four-foot putt in Alabama, opening the floodgates to her sudden rise to hottest player in women’s golf.
Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both