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US Women's Open: Ariya Jutanugarn leads by four shots after three rounds

07 June 2018

Golf got class-bully mean, Hyo-Joo Kim put on an impressive show and Jutanugarn, no stranger to trouble down the stretch of a major championship, went from invincible to vulnerable.

A blocked three-wood from the 10th triggered a triple bogey, with Kim's birdie run in the group ahead even more pertinent when Jutanugarn dropped another shot at the 12th.

It is golf's cruellest facet that marquee tournaments are often defined by a player who did not win rather than the one who did.

"I think I'm going to sleep pretty well because I didn't sleep much last night and I'm so exhausted right now", said Ariya, who started the third round three strokes adrift of Australian Smith. She felt uncomfortable in the limelight. So we had a really good lesson before Kingsmill and then I actually missed the cut in Kingsmill, but felt like I played really well.

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"The first tee shot she hit was the first really bad tee shot I saw her hit in two days", Faxon, who was working at the championship for Fox Sports, told Reuters. "She played great that whole week but this is something totally different". Jutanugarn, at this rate, appears to be just getting started. Kim, also 22, just kept plugging away, the way Casper did 52 years ago. She needed to feel deeply in her heart and in her head what she wanted out of this game. "I was actually kind of happy with how I handled it a bit more today". Only after the putt on 15 did she realize she had a chance to come back.

"We know little things that push each other's buttons, and as long as I don't do that we're OK", he said.

Duane Smith is the only caddie Sarah Jane has known and he has been at her side every step of the way, on and off the course, since she turned pro in 2004.

"She then hit a low snap hook at 11", Faxon said, recalling an observation of former USOpen champion Ken Venturi.

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Smith played with a confidence that belied her recent poor results and a career resume that does not include a single LPGA victory in 222 starts. But her struggles were not over yet. Finding the bunker on her approach to 18, she failed to get up-and-down for par and the collapse was complete. Kim produced a bogey-free 67 to also finish at 277. Jutanugarn shot one-over 73.

Oh said her effort included "nothing outstanding" although she putted well and dealt calmly with the challenges of the soggy course.

Kim wasted no time taking the lead in the playoff.

They returned to the 18th hole for the third time Sunday. She is still looking for her first LPGA win since January 2016. She missed the green long with her third shot and botched a chip to leave herself with a lengthy par attempt.

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"I'm going to sleep well tonight", said the world number five, who is aiming to win her second major.

US Women's Open: Ariya Jutanugarn leads by four shots after three rounds