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LPGA Power Rankings: Jin Young Ko, Danielle Kang lead the pack

Danielle Kang has a lot of momentum going into the Chevron Championship this weekend. (Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

Welcome to the first edition of the Just Women’s Sports LPGA power rankings. Every month this season, we’ll weigh factors such as wins, top-10 finishes and all-around performances while compiling the list of the top golfers on tour.

This will not be an exact replica of the Rolex World Rankings, though there will likely be some correlation. For example, you’ll notice that World No. 2 Nelly Korda does not appear on the list, as she’s out indefinitely with a blood clot.

As the LPGA gets set to tee off its first major of the year at the Chevron Championship, we run down the top 10 golfers playing right now.

1. Jin Young Ko

Six wins in her last eleven starts. Next.

In all seriousness, since Ko skipped the AIG Women’s Open last August to put in more work with her coach, Si Woo Lee, she has added even more records to her already historic ledger. Ko hit 63 consecutive greens in regulation to close out the 2021 CME Group Tour Championship, winning her second Rolex Player of the Year award. The streak ended at 66 during the first round of the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

The World No. 1 has recorded an immaculate 16 straight rounds in the 60s, a feat never seen before on the LPGA Tour. She’s also posted 34 consecutive rounds under par and nine consecutive top 10 finishes. Her per-round scoring average this season is 68.2.

Ko makes her third start of the year at the Chevron Championship while playing her best golf. Her last two finishes at the Dinah Shore Course were a victory in 2019 and a T7 finish in 2021. Should Ko secure her third major title, she’ll be in the driver’s seat to catch 27-time winner Lorena Ochoa for the most weeks atop the Rolex Rankings. Ko, at 122, currently sits 32 weeks behind Ochoa at 154.

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

2. Danielle Kang

If not for Ko’s laundry list of accomplishments, Kang would be worthy of the top spot. Since overhauling her team this offseason — bringing in a new physio, nutritionist and trainer — she has been tearing it up.

The American finished first and second in the two opening events of the season. Overseas, Kang posted back-to-back top 10s before a T42 finish in Carlsbad, Calif.

“I don’t know if this would be a good thing to say, but I’m using this week as practice a little bit for next week,” Kang said after the opening round of the JTBC Classic, the tournament directly ahead of the Chevron Championship. “There are still some parts of my game that I want to tune up, and I want to go in next week really confident.”

That’s some earned confidence displayed from the six-time tour winner, who’s finished in the top 15 in her last three starts at the Chevron Championship.

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

3. Lydia Ko

The 2021 Vare Trophy winner (awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average in a season) is back to playing consistent golf six years removed from her time atop the rankings in 2015 and ‘16. Since last October, Ko has finished in the top 10 in five of her previous seven starts, with a T12 result last week narrowly missing the mark.

That streak culminated with her 17th-career LPGA victory at the Gainbridge LPGA, the second tournament of the tournament at Boca Rio.

Next month, Ko will look to defend her Lotte Championship title from 2021, when she finished 28-under par for her first victory in three seasons.

Starts: 4
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: Win at Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio

4. Atthaya Thitikul

Say hello to the newest LPGA star. It won’t be surprising to see her continue to ascend the JWS power rankings, just like she has in the Rolex World Rankings. In 20th place to start the season, Thitikul vaulted into fifth after shooting a final-round 64 and winning the JTBC Classic in a playoff. She’s the clear frontrunner for Rolex Rookie of the Year, currently sitting with 329 points and holding a 215-point advantage over Hye-Jin Choi in second place.

Thitikul has even contended in LPGA majors, finishing in fifth place at the Evian Championship last July. One of the only blips on her resume is a T11 finish at the LPGA Drive On Championship in her second start of the season, causing her to narrowly miss the bar for an 80 percent top-10 rate.

Starts: 5
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 3
Best Finish: Win at JTBC Classic

5. Brooke Henderson

The winningest Canadian in golf history finished as the runner-up at the Hilton Tournament of Champions to start the season and hasn’t slowed down since. She’d be five-for-five in top 10s if not for a T11 finish – like Thitikul – at the LPGA Drive On Championship.

“To come out this year so strong, I’m definitely happy and proud of that,” Henderson said after the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand. “I feel like I’m inching my way closer every week to getting a little bit more comfortable and just enjoying those final groups as much as I have been.”

Henderson tends to win in bunches, having won two tournaments a season from 2016-19. She appears to be on the precipice of one of those runs with her consistent play of late. In late April, she’ll defend her title at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles at the DIO Implant L.A. Open.

Starts: 5
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 4
Best Finish: 2nd at Hilton Resorts Tournament of Champions

Nanna Koerstz Madsen picked up her first LPGA win at the Honda LPGA Thailand earlier in March. (Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

6. Nanna Koerstz Madsen

It’s incredible how just one stroke can swing your fate in golf. On the 72nd hole at the JTBC Classic, Koerstz Madsen stared down a 5-footer for the win. After becoming the first Danish woman ever to win on the LPGA Tour in Thailand, the 27-year-old nearly went back-to-back and earned the No. 2 spot in these rankings.

Instead, she missed the putt and lost to Thitikul in a playoff. It was her second top-two finish this year and a dramatic reversal from missing the cut in her first start of the season.

Starts: 4
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: Win at Honda LPGA Thailand

7. Leona Maguire

Leona Maguire checked off what felt like an inevitable box for the former No. 1 amateur in the world at Crown Colony Golf & Country Club in early February. The day before her mom’s birthday, Maguire shot 18-under par at the Drive On Championship for her first victory and the first by an Irishwoman on the LPGA Tour.

“The support from home has been incredible,” Maguire said. “They’ve been rallying behind me, and that’s something that I’m truly grateful for. It’s always an honor to represent Ireland, no matter where you go.”

Maguire stayed steady in southeast Asia, with a T13 finish in Singapore and a T12 in Thailand.

Starts: 4
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 1
Best Finish: Win at LPGA Drive On Championship Crown Colony

8. Celine Boutier

The Frenchwoman has been on a tear since last June, when she shot a tournemant-record 64 at the Mediheal Championship. She’s finished in the top 10 in nine of her 19 starts since then, and she has three top-five finishes this season. And in 15 rounds on tour this year, the two-time winner has yet to shoot over par.

“I feel pretty good about my weekends, to be honest,” Boutier explained at the Drive On Championship. “It was something I was struggling a bit with last year. I feel like I had a lot of tournaments where I played well the first two days, and then it’s not always easy to be either in the lead or in contention, especially the last two rounds … And I feel like the past two weeks have kind of proved that I got better at that. I feel like I handled it better.”

After passing on the JTBC Classic, she returns at the Chevron Championship, where she finished T50 last year.

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

9. Hannah Green

The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner did something no other woman in golf ever has before rejoining the LPGA in Singapore this year: Green won a mixed-gender event on the PGA Tour Australasia’s TPC Murray River. Before that, she’d won the Women’s Vic Open, a former LPGA event.

“I want to be in the top 10 in the world,” Green said after her TPC Murray River victory. “I think I can achieve it. If I keep playing the golf that I am now, hopefully I can get there.”

The Australian kept the momentum going in her opening tour start in Singapore, with a T6 finish.

Starts: 3
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 1
Best Finish: T-6 HSBC Women’s Championship

10. Lexi Thompson

The Florida resident opened the LPGA calendar with two starts in her home state, finishing T6 at the Gainbridge LPGA Boca Rio and second at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crow Colony. Thompson, who recorded victories in seven consecutive seasons from 2013-19, is looking to return to the winner’s circle. The last time she hoisted a trophy, she dropped a cross-green bomb for eagle for her 11th career victory at the 2019 Shoprite LPGA Classic.

“Just going to continue to work hard and stay in the moment and put myself in contention and hopefully a win will come,” Thompson said after the Drive On Championship.

The first major of the year gives Thompson an opportunity to surge in the power rankings. The Dinah Shore course, home of the Chevron Championship, is one where Thompson has historically excelled. In 12 career starts at Dinah Shore, she’s posted six top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2014.

Starts: 3
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 2
Best Finish: 2nd at LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony

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.

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

Arsenal Women Confirm US Tour, Preseason Friendlies

Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy battles with Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea at the 2023/24 FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
The last time Chelsea and Arsenal faced off, the Gunners took home the FA Women's League Cup. (Copa/Getty Images)

Arsenal announced on Monday that it will join Chelsea for a series of preseason friendlies in the US in August. 

Arsenal will be based in Washington, DC from August 15th through August 26th. The Gunners are scheduled to play the Washington Spirit on August 18th, followed by a match with fellow WSL team Chelsea on August 25th. It’s the first time that the two London clubs will meet each other on this side of the Atlantic. 

Chelsea had previously announced their game against Gotham FC, confirming reports from ESPN that surfaced last month.

"We always want to create the best conditions for our teams to prepare and perform at their best in pre-season," said Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar in a statement. "This gives our players an opportunity to play and train in a new environment, in front of our supporters around the world."

Both Arsenal and Chelsea tout rosters full of international talent — formidable opponents for two equally stacked NWSL teams gearing up for postseason action. Arsenal is home to accomplished England nationals Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and backheel goal-scorer Alessia Russo alongside Ireland captain Katie McCabe and USWNT defender Emily Fox.

The games are set to be streamed live for free on DAZN.

Arsenal's US tour builds off of a trip to Melbourne, Australia at the tail end of the 2023/24 season, where they beat A-League All Stars women 1-0 in front of 42,120 fans.

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