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LPGA Power Rankings: Jin Young Ko holds strong amid top 10 shake-ups

Jin Young Ko reacts after a putt during the first round of the Palos Verdes Championship. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Welcome to the second edition of the Just Women’s Sports LPGA power rankings. The tour has had three tournaments since we released our inaugural power rankings, and the results have shaken up the top 10.

Jennifer Kupcho made the winning leap into Poppie’s Pond at the 51st and final Chevron Championship. Hyo Joo Kim hula-danced along the Hawaiian shores to celebrate her Lotte Championship victory. Nasa Hataoka broke away from the field to claim the LA Open trophy last weekend by five strokes.

With the LPGA’s second of back-to-back tournaments in Los Angeles at Palos Verdes Golf Club underway this weekend, we run down the top 10 players on tour right now.

1. Jin Young Ko

After seven wins in her last 13 tournaments, Ko was close to extending her lead in these rankings during the third round of the DIO Implant Open. Instead, the World No. 1 found herself in the barranca in front of the 17th green. Rather than taking a penalty out of the hazard, Ko tried twice to get out before electing to drop. She ended up posting the first quadruple bogey of her five-year LPGA career, falling to five strokes behind eventual winner Nasa Hataoka. She played the final 20 holes at six-over par to finish T-21.

“I played not bad,” Ko said after her third round. “Just 17 was big mistake.”

Ko has had too much recent success otherwise to be knocked from the top perch. She posted 34 consecutive rounds under par following the first round of the Chevron Championship, where she shot a 74. The 13-time winner also posted 16 straight rounds in the 60s, another LPGA record.

The door could open for a new No. 1 if her blistering win streak remains on hold. Likewise, Ko’s grip on the Rolex No. 1 World Ranking is slipping. The 1.3-average ranking point cushion she built over Nelly Korda following her fourth-place finish at the JTBC Classic slowly trickled to 0.89 this week, as Korda remains sidelined while recovering from a blood clot. The World No. 2 last teed it up at the LPGA Drive On Championship in early February.

Starts: 4
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: Win at HSBC Women’s Championship
Last Month: 1st

2. Lydia Ko

Ko was not able to successfully defend her 2021 Lotte Championship, but the freshly-turned 25-year-old extended her consecutive top-30 finishes to 15 in a row dating back to July of last year at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. It’s her longest such streak since she won 22 in a row from 2015-16, a run that also included seven titles.

The two-time major champion finished T-25 at the Chevron Championship and T-18 at the Lotte Championship. After celebrating her birthday during the DIO Implant LA Open, Ko is back in action at Palos Verdes Golf Club this weekend.

In 2022, the former World No. 1 hasn’t finished outside of the top 25.

Starts: 6
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: Win at Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio
Last Month: 3rd

3. Hyo Joo Kim

In a nearly identical 2022 resume to Lydia Ko, Kim hasn’t finished outside of the top 26 in 2022. She won the Lotte Championship and finished T-8 at the Chevron Championship since the last iteration of these rankings. The 2014 Evian Championship winner sits in second place in scoring average at 69.3, trailing only Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

Her consistent results are due in part to her ability to recover around the green. The 2020 Olympian leads the LPGA in scrambling percentage, making par or better 77.9 percent of the time over 95 missed greens in regulation this season.

Starts: 5
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 3
Best Finish: Victory at the Lotte Championship
Last Month: Not Ranked

4. Atthaya Thitikul

Thitikul notched another top 10 since her maiden victory at the JTBC Classic at the end of March, with a T-6 at the LPGA Lotte Championship. The Thai star is putting together an impressive debut season so far, remaining well above her peers in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Race with 468 points. That’s good for a 135-point advantage over Hye-Jin Choi (323) in second place and a 177-point edge over Hinako Shibuno (291) in third. Na Rin An (176) sits in fourth, rounding out the group with over 150 points.

Rookie of the Year is the only major award Thitikul is in contention for. The 19-year-old is fourth in the Rolex Player of the Year race with 45 points, trailing leader Jennifer Kupcho by 20.

Starts: 8
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 4
Best Finish: Win at JTBC Classic
Last Month: 4th

5. Nanna Koerstz Madsen

The Dane is third in scoring average on the LPGA Tour. She followed up her playoff loss at the JTBC Classic with a T-8 at the Chevron Championship to make it three top 10s in a row, along with her victory in Thailand.

Koerstz Madsen is currently second in strokes gained while putting, with her flat stick averaging 29 putts per round, just over a stroke better than her 2021 average. She’s also crushing her driver, averaging just over 280 off the tee. That makes her the second-longest hitter off the tee this season, trailing fellow Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen by two yards.

Koertz Madsen’s T-48 at the DIO Implant ended her top-10 streak, but she and Danielle Kang are the only two golfers with a win and a runner-up finish in 2022.

Starts: 7
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 3
Best Finish: Win at Honda LPGA Thailand
Last Month: 6th

6. Nasa Hataoka

After the 23-year-old missed the cut at the Lotte Championship, Hataoka had a 90-minute lesson with a new coach who helped launch her to victory in Hawaii. Hataoka felt more open to making changes to her swing after not playing the weekend, and she worked on moving the ball further up in her stance and closer to her body.

The change resulted in Hataoka winning the DIO Implant Open by five shots, the biggest margin of victory on tour this season. The win, her sixth during her six-year career on tour, tied her with Jessica Korda for the most wins without a major title among active LPGA players. Her lone top-10 finish is deceiving based on her performances. In four starts before she missed the cut in Hawaii, she finished T-11, T-12, T-16 and T-17.

This week, six is a theme for Hataoka, with her victory moving her to sixth in the Rolex World Rankings, three spots off of her career-best.

Starts: 9
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 1
Best Finish: Win at DIO Implant LA Open
Last Month: Not Ranked

Kupcho won her first LPGA title, and major championship, at Chevron in early April. (Harry How/Getty Images)

7. Jennifer Kupcho

Kupcho broke through for her first LPGA victory on the major stage at the Rancho Mirage Dinah Shore course, leaping into Poppie’s Pond to punctuate her major championship. In 67 career LPGA starts, Kupcho had been within three shots of the lead six other times but had not won until Chevron.

“Once I started putting myself in contention and not succeeding, I really worked with my swing coach,” she said. “He’s also really good with the mental game. So just talking to him a lot about what’s going through my mind all the time and trying to figure out how to process my way through that.”

The 24-year-old shared after her win that it was challenging to hear fans call out Nelly Korda’s or Lexi Thompson’s names instead of her own on the course in the past. She’s now in their category with a major title, three years after winning the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Two missed cuts and a T-64 at the DIO Implant LA Open keep Kupcho further down the list, but the American’s star has been rising since the Solheim Cup. She holds an early lead on the Rolex Player of the Year race with 65 points, leading Koerstz Madsen by 17.

Starts: 8
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: Win at Chevron Championship
Last Month: Not Ranked

8. Celine Boutier

Boutier’s consistent run of play extends through the opening salvo of the season, with the French golfer leading the tour with five top-10 finishes. The Frenchwoman finished T-4 at the Chevron Championship, T-10 at the Lotte Championship and T-14 at the DIO Implant Open, finishing a stroke off of her third top-10 in a row at Wilshire Country Club.

At her press conference ahead of the Palos Verdes Championship, Boutier cited putting improvements as the difference-maker in her play. She’s T-17 on tour this year with 29 putts per round, a one-stroke improvement from 2021, when she averaged 30.1 putts per round (T-57).

Starts: 8
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 5
Best Finish: 3rd at Honda LPGA Thailand
Last Month: 8th

9. Danielle Kang

Kang and Koertz Madsen are the only two players with a victory and runner-up finish in 2022. Kang’s electric start nearly put her at the top of the original version of the power rankings, but she has cooled off since.

She finished T-17 at the Chevron Championship, then withdrew from the Lotte Championship with an injury. Kang failed to break 70 in four rounds at the DIO Implant LA Open for a T-35 finish, after posting in the 60s in 13 of 16 rounds over her first four events of the year.

She’s holding in the top 10 of the rankings because of her success at the start of the season, but she’ll need a dramatic turnaround to move back into second place.

Starts: 5
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 4
Best Finish: Win at Hilton Resorts Tournament of Champions
Last Month: 2nd

10. Minjee Lee

In March, the Australian passed on the opening Florida swing to remain in the Eastern Hemisphere for her debut at the HSBC World Championship in Sinagpore. Lee blitzed the final round with 11 birdies for a 63 and T-2 finish. It set the tone for a stellar start to the year, as Lee hasn’t finished outside of the top 25 across her five starts in 2022. She finished in 12th place at the Chevron Championship and had a T-3 at the DIO Implant Open since the last rankings.

The 2021 Amundi Evian Championship winner leads the tour in scoring average by a quarter of a stroke. Her low scoring is also why she sits in the lead in the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, a million-dollar competition that Aon sponsors on the LPGA and PGA Tour, rewarding the golfer with the lowest average score on a specific hole at each tournament. Lee’s averaging -1.1 over two combined scores, 0.1 ahead of 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA champion So Yeon Ryu.

Starts: 5
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: T-2 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship
Last Month: Not Ranked

Kent Paisley is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering golf and the LPGA. He also contributes to Golf Digest. Follow him on Twitter @KentPaisley.

The Women’s Cup Finalizes 2024 Tournament With Chile’s Colo Colo

Patricia Padium (L) of Brazils Audax/Corinthians, vies for the ball with Claudia Soto of Chile's Colo Colo during the Women Copa Libertadores final match
The addition of the Chilean side rounds out the Cup's four-team field. (FAVIO FALCON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Women’s Cup field has been finalized, with Chilean club Colo Colo joining the four-team field. 

Colo Colo will join Racing Louisville of the NWSL along with Italy's Juventus and Brazil's Palmeiras at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville from August 9th through 13th. 

The tournament will have a $100,000 prize pool.

"We are honored to have Colo-Colo as the first Chilean Team to play in The Women’s Cup," said J.P. Reynal, CEO of The Women’s Cup, in yesterday's press release. "Women’s soccer has seen exponential growth in South America and having two of the best teams in the region participating in this year’s tournament is proof they can compete with the top teams from Europe and the United States."

"We are pleased to be considered in this important championship for women’s soccer and very proud that Colo-Colo is one of the most important exponents of this discipline in Chile," echoed Enzo Caszely, president of women’s football at Colo-Colo. "As a club, we have been pioneers in its professionalization at a national level, and this instance is proof of it."

Juventus and Colo-Colo will square off on Friday, August 9th at 5 PM ET followed by Racing Louisville and Palmeiras at 8 PM ET. Tickets can be purchased now via both The Women's Cup's and Racing Lousiville's websites.

This is Racing Louisville's third time featuring in the competition. The team won The Women's Cup's first iteration in 2021, beating German side FC Bayern in penalty kicks at Lynn Family Stadium. The Seattle Reign claimed The Women's Cup in 2022.

The Kansas City Current will also host a Women’s Cup tournament from August 14th through the 17th. The winners of each 2024 tournament will then face each other in the Global Series Finals, scheduled for February 2025.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 10th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who fatally shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

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