New Zealand golfer Ko returns to No. 1 in world

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is atop the women’s golf world rankings for the third time in her career, regaining the number one spot on Monday a week after her LPGA Tour Championship triumph.

Ko, who first reached number one in 2015, passed American Nelly Korda, who had moved atop the rankings on November 14 after a one-stroke victory at the Pelican Women’s Championship.

“I’m very grateful to be world number one again,” Ko said in a statement. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be back here again.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without my family and team, thank you for your belief and love.”

Ko became the youngest world number one when she topped the rankings in 2015, holding the top spot from February 2 to June 14 for a total of 19 weeks.

She then reigned as number one for 85 weeks from October 2015 to June 2017.

The span of five years, five months and 17 days is the longest period between spells at number one — Ko regaining the summit after a 2022 resurgence that started with a January victory at the LPGA at Boca Rio in Florida.

She had ended a near three-year title drought — during which she dropped as low as 59th in the world — with a victory in the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii in 2021.

She thrust herself back among the game’s elite this year, following her Boca Rio triumph with victories at the BMW Ladies Championship and the season-ending Tour Championship.

That last win came with a $2 million winner’s prize, the largest first-place prize in the history of women’s golf.

It also cemented her second LPGA Player of the Year award and the Vare Trophy for the player with the lowest scoring average.

Along with her three victories, Ko recorded nine more top five finishes in 2022, including a fifth place at the US Women’s Open and a tie for third at the Evian Championship.

Her 105th week atop the rankings this week is the fifth-most ever, a list led by Mexican Lorena Ochoa at 158 weeks.

Ko, who was just 15 when she won her first LPGA title, has 19 victories, including major titles at the 105 Evian Championship and 2016 Chevron Championship.

She also earned Olympic silver for New Zealand at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and bronze at the Tokyo Games.

Agence France-Presse

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