Extra parity in women's golf helps Ko keep No. 1 ranking

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, left, and Marina Alex playfully lean on each other as they wait to putt on the 17th green during the final round of the LPGA Volvik Championship golf tournament at the Travis Pointe Country Club, Sunday, May 28, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — So Yeon Ryu and Ariya Jutanugarn each had a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking in women's golf over the weekend.

Instead, all they did was switch places at No. 2.

Lydia Ko remained atop the Rolex Rankings on Monday for the 84th consecutive week. She's managed to stay at No. 1 despite being winless so far in 2017 — and despite skipping last week's LPGA Tour event in Michigan. In a season of unusual parity in women's golf, nobody has been able to catch her.

Ryu was second and Jutanugarn third heading into the Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club, and there were a number of scenarios in which one of them could have moved to No. 1 by finishing near the top in that event. Instead, Ryu finished tied for 56th, snapping a streak of 11 straight top-10 showings. Jutanugarn ended up tied for 21st.

Jutanugarn moved past Ryu and is No. 2 in the new rankings, but her performance wasn't nearly enough to overtake Ko.

"I think that is not really important for me," Jutanugarn said Sunday. "I think, to be honest, I really want to improve my game, and go out and have fun."

Jutanugarn, who is from Thailand, won five times in 2016 and took player-of-the-year honors, but she's without a victory this season. Ko, who is from New Zealand, hasn't won either and is only 17th on the money list. None of the top players in the Rolex Rankings was much of a factor in Ann Arbor, with fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson finishing tied for 65th.

Shanshan Feng of China won the tournament , giving the LPGA 12 different winners in 12 events this year. The last time there were no repeat winners this long into the season was in 1991, so the tour appears to have an impressive amount of depth right now.

Of course, with nobody else able to dominate for any extended period, Ko has been able to keep the No. 1 ranking despite only one top-five finish in 2017.

Ryu, who is from South Korea, won the ANA Inspiration after Thompson was penalized four strokes following a rules violation reported by a television viewer. Ryu's performance last week came as a surprise after she'd been so consistently good all year.

"What I want to do is think about my own goal, which is every time when I come to tournament, win the tournament is my goal, so only think about that," she said Friday. "I need to keep playing well to be No. 1 in the world and I have to keep playing well to become a player of the year or first place for money ranking, those kind of stuff. So I want to look farther instead of just think about this week."

Jutanugarn is not playing in the next LPGA event in New Jersey, and neither is Ko, so that will leave Ryu as the player in the field closest to the top. Feng moved up a spot to No. 6, and although she's still well behind Ko, her victory Sunday was her third straight top-10 finish.

Since winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics last year, Feng has three tour victories, the most of anybody in that span.

"I think overall I've been a very consistent player and I've had many, many top fives, top 10s in my career so far, but I want to win more," Feng said. "I think that's why I actually started to win more tournaments, because I don't want to just make top 10s, I want to win tournaments."

This year on the LPGA Tour, nobody's been able to do that more than once.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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