Thai sisters launch LPGA International Crown
Thailand golfers Ariya Jutanugan (L) and Moriya Jutanugan (R) stand together on the green during the first round of the LGPA International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland, July 24, 2014 - by Jim Watson
Moriya, who plays on the US circuit, and Ariya, who competes on the Ladies European Tour, faced Spain's Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo in the first of eight four-ball matches Thursday at the $1.6 million fight for global bragging rights.
Australia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Sweden and the United States also have four-woman teams at 6,628-yard Caves Valley Golf Club in quest of four metal crowns symbolic of supremacy this week.
Moriya, who turns 20 on Monday, was last year's LPGA Rookie of the Year and excited at the prospect of competing for her homeland by her sister's side.
"I love to play with her," Moriya said. "We played together all the time when we were young. So it's going to be a good match. It's going to be really fun.
"We haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks. I practiced with her and was like, 'Whoa this is crazy golf.'
"This week is going to be really good that we can play together. It's very good that we can play for Thailand also."
Ariya, the younger of the Bangkok siblings at 18, competed in the LPGA event in Thailand at age 11. She won the 2010 US Women's Amateur Public Links title and captured her first pro title last year in Morocco.
"It's very nice to have my sister on my team," Ariya said. "I've had a chance to play against her and i beat her before. We play on the same team in Thailand sometimes for fun but when we play a match I always beat her."
"Not that much," Moriya replied.
"Well, 4 and 3 is much for me," Ariya responded.
Ariya underwent surgery last July to repair a torn labrum in her right shoulder after she stumbled down a steep slope at last year's LPGA Championship and missed six months after having risen to 15th in the world.
She now ranks 43rd, second-best on the team some 15 places below Pornanong Phatlum but well ahead of 120th-ranked Moriya.
"It was pretty hard to come back after I had surgery," Ariya said. "It took me a long time to come back and get confident. Like now it's like 90 percent with my shoulder, but I hope it's going to get better."
That confidence extends through the entire Thailand lineup.
"We are really confident because we are a good team," Moriya said. "We are really friendly and hang out together all the time. We are pretty close. To me it's a little more like pleasure (than a regular event). We will have fun."
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