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Ko ups the stakes in Jutanugarn LPGA duel

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/10/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Lydia Ko expects her season-long battle for LPGA honours with Ariya Jutanugarn to go down to the final tournament.</span> © Stanley Chou/Getty Images Lydia Ko expects her season-long battle for LPGA honours with Ariya Jutanugarn to go down to the final tournament. Lydia Ko's improved 12th-placed finish at the LPGA tournament sets up a classic battle for the Tour's major honours with Thai rival Ariya Jutanugarn.

The Kiwi world No.1 produced her best finish for seven weeks at the Sime Darby LPGA although she finished a distant nine strokes behind the Tour's form player, Shanshan Feng of China.

World No.2 Jutanugarn was nine strokes behind Ko in 43rd, altering their two-woman duel for multiple season honours.

Ko's season prizemoney improved to $US2.45 million ($NZ3.42 million), leapfrogging her rival by less than $US4000.

Jutanugarn, who has won five times this year to Ko's four, retains a narrow 50-point lead in the lucrative "Race to the CME Globe" standings.

Jutanugarn also remains 13 points ahead in the Player of the Year honours, with Ko missing the chance to make up ground by finishing in the top-10.

Both are scheduled to contest two of the three remaining tournaments - this week's Japan Classic and the season-ending Tour Championship starting in Florida on November 17.

Ko has been impressed by Jutanugarn's breakthrough season and expects the pair's battle for honours continue until the closing stages in Florida.

"Ariya is consistently putting herself in good positions and that's what I've been trying to do," she said.

"I think we're going to go to the very end. But whatever happens, I think it's a year and a season that I'm proud of."

Ko also praised her local caddie in Kuala Lumpur, Guna Sargunan, who she enlisted on a one-off basis after parting ways with two-year bagman Jason Hamilton following a 51st placing in South Korea two weeks ago.

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