Golf

World No. 1 on the line

Lydia Ko
Ko is the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf.

Lydia Ko’s 82-week stretch at the top of the world women’s rankings goes on the line again this week at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Both the No. 2 player, So Yeon Ryu of South Korea, and the No. 3-ranked player, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, have a chance to jump into the top slot if they win or contend this week in the 11th tournament of the LPGA Tour season.

Depending upon Ko’s result, either could leapfrog to No. 1 even with a second-place finish this week. Although both have threatened Ko over the past year, neither has ever visited the No.1  position on the rankings.

Meanwhile 20-year-old Ko goes about her business without focussing on her ranking. ” I don’t really look at the rankings myself,” she told media today. “I don’t go in my spare time and look, Hey, what position am I in? I kind of know these things through media and when people tell me, Hey it’s getting close. It could change this week.

“It’s been a huge honor to be in this position. It’s always been a dream of mine to be the No. 1 ranked player. For it to have happened so early and for it to have happened, it’s something I’m very fortunate about. I know that the girls are playing amazing golf and there is an incredible amount of talent on this tour in the women’s game in general. I know I need to work hard and I need to put that performance to try and maintain it.

“I’ve just got to focus on the round, the shot in front of me, and not get too carried away about the results and the rankings. Just got to focus on me. I think that’s the important thing going forward.”

Twenty of the top 25 players in the world are in the field this week including Australia’s top player, 19th-ranked Minjee Lee, who won this tournament two years ago to kickstart her career. Lee, 21, is having another good year with three top-10 finishes including her best result in a major, tied-third in the ANA Inspiration event.

Veteran Karrie Webb, who is struggling in what is likely to be her final year on tour, Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Kemp and Katherine Kirk also are teeing it up.

As for Ko, she repeated her assertion that she aims to retire by the age of 30 to pursue other dreams. “I mean, this is my fourth year on tour and it’s gone by super fast. I can remember my rookie year as if it was yesterday. I’ve changed and I feel like my game has changed. No glasses anymore compared to four years ago. A lot of things have changed.

“My goal is to retire at 30, so that’s another ten years from now. Anything can really happen. I’m sure in a years’ time I’ll be a little bit different from what I am now. I think just being able to spend a lot of time here with the girls, especially within the game of golf where it’s, like you said, there are girls that are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and even Juli Inkster in her 50s. That’s the amazing thing about the game, is that it’s not only for one generation. There are a lot of generations.”

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