Ariya and Kim in U.S. Women's Open playoff

Posted June 07, 2018

Ariya Jutanugarn almost let the trophy slip from her grasp.

Australia's Sarah-Jane Smith is the clubhouse leader at the US Women's Open at Shoal Creek as a storm forced play to be postponed overnight. What followed could have been one of the most dramatic collapses in golf history.

Smith is at 10-under 134 heading into the weekend after failing to make the cut in five of her previous six U.S. Women's Open tries.

Even though she was in a good mood after the third round, Jutanugarn admitted she was exhausted. "So we had a really good lesson before Kingsmill (two weeks ago) and then I actually missed the cut but felt like I played really well".

"Honestly I tried to smile", she said.

Another bogey followed at the 12th.

Sitting at 3 under after a 68, Spain's Carlotta Ciganda said she was surprised to see any one at double-digits under par like Smith.

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So with Kim charging, Luark appealed to the stubborn side of Jutanugarn, the maddening side of her personality that Luark has come to respect as much as he tolerates.

Oh said her effort included "nothing outstanding" although she putted well and dealt calmly with the challenges of the soggy course. A bogey on the 17th - only Molinari's second of the entire tournament - ended up being decisive.

Second round action will resume early tomorrow before the third round is also scheduled to take place.

"I don't think I could have done more", Molinari said. She's got husband Duane on the bag as her longtime caddie. "It didn't have any height to it and then she hit a bad iron shot on two, a big pull-hook". After almost four hours, play resumed, though just for an hour before the LPGA announced the round was suspended due to inclement weather and would resume at 6:45 a.m. local time on Saturday. But her struggles were not over yet.

She then posted seven straight pars, taking over the lead when Smith stumbled to back-to-back birdies on Nos. eight and nine holes. "I didn't sleep much last night and I'm really exhausted".

"I sent him a text message on Sunday and I said, I don't know what I'm doing".

Kim wasted no time taking the lead in the playoff.

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The mind tricks weren't working, but she wasn't going to stop trying. A birdie at the first extra hole, the 14th, gave her a quick advantage.

Anyone who watched surely enjoyed the affair, and they may also have been clued into a specific visual: Jutanugarn applauding successful shots made by Kim during their one-on-one playoff. Olesen hit his second shot into a greenside bunker after driving into the rough. Jutanugarn chipped from under the green and converted her par attempt to draw level.

Back at the 14th Kim finally missed a birdie attempt that would have won the title.

The players went back to the 14th, which they both parred. Kim's shot out of the bunker was decent, but Jutanugarn's was phenomenal, rolling right next to cup and setting up an easy par putt.

Ariya had 10 holes left, and she picked up two birdies and one bogey to card a two-under-par 70 at Shoal Creek. Kim made another bogey, and the Thai tapped in for the win.

Disaster had been averted.

Smith opened the day in a three-way tie atop the leaderboard with Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn and Korean Jeongeun Lee. Her 2014 major victory, at the ANA Inspiration, included an opening round of 61. She became the second youngest player in LPGA history to win a major championship, capturing the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at 18 years, 9 months and 2 days. She found it by helping kids, sponsoring schools in her native Thailand. This is a player who can find ways to win and lose in spectacular fashion.

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Charley Hull's best US Open to date saw her finish in a share of 10th.