By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Thai world number two Ariya Jutanugarn will be taking her shots "one song at a time " to avoid over-thinking out on the course as she bids to follow up last year's breakthrough campaign with even more success.
The 21-year-old Bangkok native used to be regarded as a bit of a choker following some astonishing late collapses but she ended her run of agonizing near misses with a nervy maiden LPGA Tour victory last May and she has not looked back since.
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Four more victories followed, including a British Open triumph, yet despite her meteoric rise up the rankings to sit hot the heels of top-ranked Lydia Ko, Ariya still succumbs to bouts of negativity and has a novel way of combating them.
"After I hit a shot... I just like to do something else, sing a song or something, until it's time to hit the next shot, then I think about that," Ariya told reporters in Singapore on Wednesday ahead of the HSBC Women's Champions event.
"I have a lot of songs but I tend to stick with just one, a Thai song, but I am not going to sing it now," she added with a grin.
Ariya said her tuneful strategy came as a result of talking to her coaches about self-doubt during tournaments as she tries to replicate the relaxed mood she enjoys when listening to music during practice sessions.
The big-hitting Thai, who became the first player from her country to win a major, is also steering clear of setting goals to match last year's stellar return as she feels that would be counter-productive.
"I'm under no pressure because I'm not going to compare myself this year to last year. I'm just going to work on my commitment, to have fun and be happy on the course," she added.
"I'm the same player but I just learned from my mistakes. I managed to change my focus on all the good things. So when I hit a bad shot, I don't really feel upset or complain about it. I try to focus more on positive things."
Ariya admitted that playing in front of a home crowd at last week's Honda LPGA Thailand event came with added pressure but an encouraging eighth-place finish was a good platform to build upon.
"I have more confidence after last week and I like the look of this layout," she said of the New Tanjong Course being used for the first time in Singapore.
"(But) I won't be thinking about the rankings. I don't feel like I really need to be world number one or anything because to me, having fun is the most important thing."
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)