Multi-time major champion Ariya Jutanugarn has reached the top of the women’s golf world without carrying a driver in her bag. For years now, Ariya Jutanugarn hasn’t put a 1-wood in the bag, preferring to tee off instead with a long iron.
So why doesn’t Ariya Jutanugarn have a driver in her bag?
Quite frankly, it all boils down to accuracy. Jutanugarn, whose sister Moriya is also an LPGA winner, doesn’t feel as accurate off the tee with a driver in her hand. She’s long enough relative to her LPGA peers and tournament host courses that she can afford to give up some yardage in exchange for more accuracy off the tee.
“Some holes I really have to hit like 2-iron off the tee or 3-iron because the fairway is pretty narrow and you don’t want to put yourself in the bunker,” she said ahead of the 2019 US Women’s Open, where she is defending champion.
The change came in 2016, when her caddie begged her to take the driver out of play. It changed her career, leading her to No. 1 in the world. She still ranks in the top 15 on the LPGA in driving distance without the driver. Jutanugarn uses driver in some practice rounds, but she keeps it at home when it’s time to play the competitive rounds. She developed a fear of the driver during a string of 10 consecutive missed cuts in 2016.
At times, Jutanugarn has flirted with putting the driver back in the back. At the 2018 UL International Crown team event in Incheon, South Korea, the Thai star strongly considered bringing out the driver. However, she’s largely held back from the idea of bringing out the big stick in any golf tournament, even the US Women’s Open, which is typically one of the longest courses in women’s golf each year.