Ariya Jutanugarn, It’s official – she’s number 1!

Ariya Jutanugarn. Mandatory Credit: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News via USA TODAY NETWORK
Ariya Jutanugarn. Mandatory Credit: Dorothy Edwards/Naples Daily News via USA TODAY NETWORK /

Ariya Jutanugarn’s surprise win at the Manulife LPGA Classic and her Rolex Rankings takeover gave her week a storybook ending.

Ariya Jutanugarn came from behind Sunday at the Manulife LPGA Classic, steadily played her way up the leaderboard to a tie with In Gee Chun for second place, and then watched while Lexi Thompson missed the putt that would have secured her almost certain victory. The three-way playoff was short and, for Ariya it was sweet. She secured her sixth LPGA win – her first in a playoff – and rose to number one in the world rankings.

While Jutanugarn’s takeover of the top of the rankings was a bit anti-climactic – we all knew it was coming – her finish at the Manulife was pure golf drama at an event that had more than its fair share of dramatic storylines.

From 18 holes onward Lexi Thompson looked destined to win the thing. She was the perfect picture of power and grace, shot after shot, hole after hole. She was one with her sticks, each of them, all of them, until the back nine on Sunday when her putter went stone cold. Going into the final round, the Manulife was Thompson’s to lose, and lose it she did, with an uncharacteristically short approach and a missed four-footer.

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Then there was Lindy Duncan, a standout Duke Blue Devil and a 2014 rookie who’s never recorded a top-10 finish at an LPGA event, playing with Thompson in the final group on Sunday. It was all too much. What could have been a storybook ending started all wrong, with four bogeys in seven holes, and a tumble down the board.

By the turn Duncan had regained her footing but that final round 3-over par 75 left her with a T7 finish instead of a win or a runner-up. Maybe it’s not such a bad ending for Lindy Duncan. Now she knows she has what it takes to play on the big stage.

Brooke Henderson was the lowest-scoring Canadian, but her T11 finish wasn’t the low score she and her fans had hoped for.

Jodi Ewart Shadoff’s consistently fine performance – four solid rounds in the 60s – got her a solo 4th finish and greatly improved her Solheim Cup standings for Team Europe.

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It was a good day for Ewart Shadoff, not so much for Suzann Pettersen, who started the Manulife hot as a firecracker but couldn’t keep pace and had to settle for a 12-under par, solo 10th place finish.

Laura Gonzalez Escallon quietly played her way to a T5 finish, showing us the stuff in her bag that’s putting her in the upper echelon of the Tour’s 2017 rookie class.

Still, the day belonged to Ariya Jutanugarn, who’s proved yet again that when it comes to golf, you don’t give up until the last putt drops because until that moment just about anything can and will happen. She started Sunday trailing Thompson’s lead by four strokes. A birdie here, a bogey there, things equaled out, and then there was that last, impossibly long putt that rolled, curled, and dropped.

Next: LPGA Rookie Race: Park v Yin v Korda

With a T62, Symetra Tour Monday qualifier Allie White finished alongside Holly Clyburn and Catriona Matthew – not bad company at all for a Monday qualifier.