There’s a New Number One
For the fourth time this season, there is a new player at the top of the Rolex Rankings. Sung Hyun Park, who was ranked No. 4 heading into the Indy Women in Tech Championship Drive by Group 1001, had a mathematical chance of returning to the top of the rankings. The Korean held the top spot in the world once before during a single week in 2017. Shanshan Feng wrestled the honor away from Park at the season ending event in Naples and held on to it for 23 weeks. Now, after stints by Feng, Inbee Park and Ariya Jutanugarn, Park has returned to the top of the rankings following her victory in Indy. She’s just the fourth Korean to ascend to No. 1 in the world and 12th player to hold the distinction since the rankings were established in 2006.
How They Stack Up
After three weeks at the top of the Rolex Rankings, Ariya Jutangugarn was replaced at the top of the rankings by Sung Hyun Park, who won her third event of the season in Indy. Jutanugarn and Park are the only players who have won three times in 2018, which begs comparison between how the two have come to dominate this year on Tour. And the two couldn’t have taken a more different route.
While both have played their way into the winner’s circle repeatedly this season, Jutanugarn has been the more consistent of the two players. The Thai leads the Tour in every major statistical category, including and perhaps most importantly, in scoring average. Jutanugarn leads with an average of 69.342 while Park is ranked 25th on Tour at 70.623. The result has produced 13 top 10 finishes for Jutanugarn, who at 62 percent, leads the Tour in the category. Park is still learning how to win without her best game. Despite three victories, Park has just one other top 10 this year, resulting in a total of 4 of 17 top 10s or 24 percent, and six missed cuts.
Here's how the players compare side by side:
|Category||Ariya Jutanugarn||Sung Hyun Park|
|Money List||$2,207,513 (1)||$1,214,262 (2)|
|Race to CME Globe||3,413 points (1)||2,003 (3)|
|Scoring Average||69.342 (1)||70.623 (2)|
|Player of the Year||198 points (1)||124 (2)|
|Rolex Annika Major Award||88 points (1)||64 points (2)|
|Top 10s||13/21 or 62% (1)||4/17 or 24% (23)|
Since Lizette Salas finished runner-up at the Kia Classic in March, she’s said how close she’s been to winning again on Tour. The 2014 Kingsmill Champion wasn’t kidding, as she picked up her second runner-up finish of the year last week in Indianapolis. The solid performance earned her a move of five spots in the Rolex Rankings and up to No. 22, which makes her the fifth ranked American in the world.
Salas climbed to as high as No. 10 in the world following her victory at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship. Since her victory she’s dropped no lower than No. 73 in Nov. 2016 but since then has made a steady climb back into the top 25 in the world with her sights no doubt set on making her fourth Solheim Cup team.
Emma Talley, a 2018 rookie on the LPGA Tour, continued her climb up the Rolex Rankings with a 21st place finish in Indy. Talley is now ranked No. 92 in the world, which is the highest of her career and an incredible feat given she began the year ranked No. 357. Talley has four top 10 finishes in 2018 which propelled her into the top 100 in the world.
Mina Harigae, who joined the Tour in 2010, picked up her second top 10 in her last four starts with her T7 finish in Indy. Harigae jumped 37 spots with her top 10 finish to No. 135 in the Rolex Rankings. The American was previously ranked as high as No. 70 in the world in July 2012.
Brianna Do, who has split her career between the LPGA and Symetra Tours, finished 15th in Indy for her career best finish on the LPGA. Do leaped from No. 303 to No. 249 in the Rolex Rankings with her solid finish.