Ariya Jutanugarn almost had a starring role in what could've gone down as one of the most spectacular falls in major championship history. Jutanugarn, already a nine-time victor on the LPGA Tour and the 2016 British Open champion, appeared under no pressure whatsoever when beginning her final nine holes.
Ariya became the first player from Thailand to win the championship when she parred the fourth extra hole at Shoal Creek after earlier finishing tied with Kim at 11-under-par 277 in regulation.
Jutanugarn, the 2016 Women's British Open champion, led by seven shots after the front nine but a triple bogey on No. 10 cut the lead to four and seemed to shake her confidence. "I like to hit a lot of little shots on the golf course, whether it's chip shots, three-quarter shots, and I just had no control over how far I was hitting it".
Another bogey followed at the 12th. "Maybe we'll have more crowd tomorrow and maybe the atmosphere will be a bit different, but it's just part of it".
Kim had been on the verge of becoming the eighth Korean victor of the event in the past 11 years.
Kim, chasing a second major title to go with her 2014 Evian Championship, had five birdies in her bogey-free round.
"Wait", she said grinning.
Smith, who is ranked 97th in the world, has put on an impressive performance this week after she switched back to a old set of clubs. "I don't know what the outcome will be, but I know what I'm going to take action on".
"I felt pretty good", Jutanugarn said of facing that decisive sand shot.
She also got to witness Jutanagarn's horror show at close range.
The format for the playoff was a two-hole aggregate on 14 and 18, but the players were still tied after the two holes.
So much so that Ariya resorted to hitting her two-iron down the stretch, but even that she struggled to hit straight with any regularity.
The Thai former number one was the only player to get anywhere near runaway leader Smith, who shot a five-under 67 on Friday to establish a commanding lead. Finding the bunker on her approach to 18, she failed to get up-and-down for par and the collapse was complete.
Jutanugarn had just started her round when the first rain delay occurred. She still had a two-shot lead with two holes remaining, but closed with back-to-back bogeys to fall into a playoff after shooting 73. "I am really excited".
"I was definitely nervous but not like I've been in the past".
Heading into the playoff having blown a very big lead, Jutanugarn refocused and recommitted. Time and again on Sunday she made long putts, and she wasn't about to stop making them now. He missed the green from the fairway on the 18th on the first extra hole and had to scramble for par.
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. Kim found a greenside bunker and missed a par putt.