Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn is inside the top 15 at the halfway mark of the ISPS Handa Australian Women's Open which in itself is an impressive effort but Jutanugarn's golfing odyssey to date, even at the age of 18, is one of the more interesting in Canberra this week.
To golf fans the name might sound familiar. Moriya's sister Ariya finished runner-up behind Karrie Webb at the recent Volvik RACV Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast and is a member of the Ladies European Tour.
Despite the fact that 17 year old Ariya finished as the leading qualifier at the recent Ladies European Tour school she was unable to secure a start in this week's event due to field limitations, so it is her sister Moriya who is flying the family flag this week.
Intriguingly 18 year old Moriya shared medallist honours the at the LPGA Tour School in Florida late last year and, given the greater number of positions available in this week's field for LPGA Tour players, she gets the opportunity to play her first LPGA Tour event as a cardholder.
In 2012 Moriya won the South Atlantic Amateur, finished runner-up at Women’s Western Amateur, runner-up at Canadian Women’s Amateur, advanced to quarterfinals at North & South Women’s Amateur and qualified for U.S. Women’s Open where she missed the cut.
Ariya was the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year. She finished the season at No. 1 in the Golfweek girls junior rankings. Jutanugarn won the Junior PGA Championship, the Thunderbird International Junior and the Rolex Girls Junior Championship by an 18-shot margin. She was a semifinalist at both the U.S. Girls’ Junior where she was also the stroke-play medallist and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships. She also won the AJGA Polo Junior Golf Classic.
Clearly the sisters have been dominant forces in amateur golf through their junior years and are expected to be successful on both sides of the Atlantic as they play their respective Tours.
Management company IMG think so as well. The game's largest player managers have signed both sisters to their stable obviously aware of the publicity their sibling rivalry will generate as their professional careers develop.
Moriya Jutanugarn's progress this weekend will be watched with interest. Already her sister has a runner-up finish on the Ladies European Tour and given her solid performance to date in this week's event, Moriya has an opportunity to get her career in the paid ranks off to a very good start also.