Amy Olson and Ariya Jutanugarn well over Thailand Incident
Amy Olson, on seven under par, and Ariya Jutanugarn, who is among five players on five under, did rather more than merely sign off in style on the second day of the HSBC World Women’s Champions in Singapore. Both took a big step towards bringing to a halt all conversations concerning whether or not they had broken the so-called “backstopping” rule last week in Thailand.
To recap, the ruling in question related to how, after Jutanugarn failed to mark her ball before Olson hit to the 18th green, the ensuing collision of missiles left Olson’s ball closer than it would otherwise have been.
LPGA rules officials had already done their bit to quieten the social-media brigade by saying that, though the incident might not have looked good, the two girls were in the clear in that there had been “no agreement” to leave Jutanugarn’s ball in place.
Today, first Jutanugarn and then Olson explained that their critics had not hurt them as much as they might have done. “I wasn’t at all bothered,” said Jutanugarn, the first to come off the course. “We didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t break any rules.”
As for Olson, she said much the same while adding that it had been important to her to have her voice heard on social media.
Olson “cleared” her head on Monday and was mentally ready for Singapore where she followed her opening 68 with a 69. There was an eagle at the fifth to compensate for a birdie-free first half and she stayed patient to set two birdies against a bogey homeward bound. “I actually had a ton of birdie opportunities which didn’t drop but overall I played well,” she said. “The course set-up wasn’t the easiest and the wind wasn’t helping either. It was picking up.”
Olson, who tied for second behind Angela Stanford at last year’s Evian championship, will tell you that she harboured a dream to turn professional from the age of 10, “and twelve years later that dream became a reality”.
Jutanugarn, who felt that her 71 of yesterday was probably what she deserved on a day when she missed one putt after another, said she is confident of “something showing up in the third round.”
It may have to, for the World No 1 could scarcely have a more scary bunch of companions on the five-under mark. Inbee Park, who had a 69, is one of them, with Azahara Munoz, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Minjee Lee making up the rest of the party.
Carlotta Ciganda and Sung Hyun Park are both on four under with guess who else.
It is Ariya’s sister, Moriya, whose years of patience when her sister was doing all the winning, were finally rewarded with a win at the end of last year.
What a leaderboard and what a tournament.