Golfing Jutanugarn sisters building homes for the poor

Having taken home professional golfing titles and awards, Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn began their offseason by giving something back, teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for people in need, as Ariya predicted that more women golfers from Thailand would emerge as winners on the women’s tour next year.

Wearing hardhats and wielding spades, Ariya laid bricks last week for their project’s first modest home in Suphanburi province. The beneficiary was Chalouey Teptan, a farmer who earns less than $150 a month and who wrote to the Jutanugarns seeking help for himself, his disabled wife and two daughters who had been living in a warehouse room with no plumbing.

Now the Teptan family has a home of their own, with a roof that doesn’t leak, a kitchen, and modern plumbing. Ariya and Moriya spent the week drilling, hammering and spreading cement so people less fortunate could enjoy a better life.

The project was carried out by the Jutanugarn’s charitable foundation in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a United States-based nongovernmental organization that has built, rehabilitated or repaired millions of homes for the poor on four continents since 1976. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has also partnered with Habitat for Humanity and built many houses for the destitute in the U.S. and abroad.

The Jutanugarn sisters are also planning a charity golf tournament in Thailand this month to raise more money to build more homes for families in need. Ariya, 23, who is currently ranked number one in the world on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour, has earned over $7.3 million in her young career, while Moriya, 24, is ranked 19th and has made over $3.6 million.

Ariya predicted last week that other Thai women golfers would join them in the winners’ circle on the LPGA tour, probably next season.

“I believe there will be a new Thai champion next year,” Ariya told The Nation newspaper. “All of the 11 (Thai) players on the tour are capable of winning.”

Among the likeliest contenders, she said, is Pornanong Phatlum, who has played on the tour for nine years and finished second several times. Her most recent second-place finish was in 2018’s British Open where she led after three rounds but endured a heartbreaking loss as her lead slipped away on the final two holes.

“Pornanong is talented, hard-working and is willing to do everything that will pave her way to a maiden title,” Ariya said. “I know one day her time will come. I believe that she is good enough to become an LPGA champion anytime.”