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Ko feels the No.1 squeeze in Hawaii

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/04/2017

Lydia Ko can at least keep her enemies close as the squeeze goes on her world No.1 ranking again this week in Hawaii.

Playing her last LPGA event as a teenager, the Kiwi's 76-week run as the world's top-ranked player could come to an end at the Lotte Championship in Oahu.

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn has been in hot pursuit of Ko this season and has been joined by new world No.2 So Yeon Ryu of Korea, who climbed a spot following her victory at last week's ANA Inspiration, the first major of the year.

The trio have been grouped together for the first two rounds at the Ko Olina course.

Victory for either of Ko's rivals will give them a chance to claim top spot, with the Kiwi 19-year-old having failed to win since last July.

Ryu, 26, is riding a streak of eight consecutive top-seven finishes dating back to last season.

Jutanugarn, 21, pipped Ko as LPGA player of the year in 2016 and had spent 35 consecutive weeks ranked second before being overtaken last week.

Ryu leads this season's points race from Jutanugarn, with Ko 21st.

The Kiwi has lodged three top-10 finishes in six tournaments and was 11th at the ANA Inspiration, one week after missing the cut at another California event.

Leading women's golf rankings:

Lydia Ko (NZ) 9.26 average points 1, So Yeon Ryu (Korea) 8.35 2, Aryia Jutanugarn (Thailand 8.18 3, In Gee Chun (Korea) 6.55 4, Lexi Thompson (USA) 6.53 5, Shanshan Feng (China) 6.14 6, Inbee Park (Korea) 6.06 7.

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