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LPGA Power Rankings: Minjee Lee knocks Jin Young Ko from No. 1

Minjee Lee finished tied for runner-up at the PGA Championship a few weeks after winning the U.S. Open. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Welcome to a mid-season edition of the Just Women’s Sports LPGA power rankings. Two majors have wrapped up since our third iteration, leading to plenty of shake-ups. Two more majors will play out over the next three weeks, with the Amundi Evian Championship teeing off Thursday and the AIG Women’s Open on Aug. 4.

Our new top player, the first to knock World No. 1 Jin Young Ko from the power rankings pedestal, is the defending champion at the Evian Resort Golf Club.

1. Minjee Lee

The newest two-time major champion claims the top spot in our power rankings after her victory at the U.S. Women’s Open last month. Lee nearly won back-to-back majors, if not for In Gee Chun’s four-foot putt on the 18th hole to secure the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship title. The Australian is now second in the Rolex World Rankings and has an opportunity to be the first player to knock Jin Young Ko off her No. 1 perch since Nelly Korda in 2021.

Lee leads the LPGA in all of its major award categories at this stage in the season. She’s earned 135 Player of the Year points, awarded based on top-10 performances and worth double in majors. Lee holds a 40-point edge over Jennifer Kupcho in the POY race.

She also earned 84 points in the Rolex Annika Major award race with her victory and runner-up finish in the last two majors. Kupcho and Chun, with 60 points each from their respective major wins, are tied for second.

Lee is also leading the Vare Trophy race with a 69.025 scoring average. If that lead held for the remainder of the season, the Australian would have the second-lowest winning scoring average in tour history, trailing only Annika Sorenstam’s 68.7 average in 2002.

Lee is averaging -1.05 in the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, a -.121 advantage over Jessica Korda. The winner earns a crisp $1 million at the end of the season. It’s another potential million-dollar paycheck Lee could cash alongside the $1.8 million she earned at Pine Needles Golf Club.

Starts: 11
Wins: 2
Top-10s: 5
Notable finishes: Victories at the U.S. Women’s Open, Cognizant Founders Cup, T-2 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Last month: 3rd

2. Jennifer Kupcho

Kupcho has won two of her last three tournaments, raising trophies in back-to-back LPGA starts in Michigan for the most titles on tour so far in 2022. Her victory at the Chevron Championship set her up for success at Midland Country Club, with Lizette Salas asking her to team up during the first round at the Dinah Shore Course.

“In the end, I think it really calmed us down to have each other by our sides,” Kupcho said at her victory press conference. “So, to come out on top, it’s really amazing next to Lizette.”

After starting the season in 44th place in the Rolex World Rankings, Kupcho has surged into ninth despite earning zero points for her victory at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. The team event doesn’t give any out.

Kupcho is now the third highest-ranked American in the world, trailing just Nelly Korda (third) and Lexi Thompson (sixth).

Starts: 15
Wins: 3
Top-10s: 4
Notable finishes: Wins at the Chevron Championship, Meijer LPGA Classic, Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational,
Last month: 9th

3. Jin Young Ko

The reigning LPGA Player of the Year hasn’t won in eight starts, knocking her out of the top spot in these rankings for the first time this year.

For most, that’s normal. For Ko, it’s an aberration.

Should she not win for the second time in four years at the Amundi Evian Championship this week, she’ll have gone her second-most starts between victories since her third-career title at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in March 2019. The 13-time winner went 10 starts between her wins at the 2020 CME Group Tour Championship and 2021 Volunteers of America Classic.

Ko breaking that streak at one of the upcoming major championships would reaffirm her grip on the No. 1 spot in the World Rankings. Moreover, it would bring her closer to another historic mark on her resume.

Ko has held the No. 1 spot for 137 weeks in her career, the second most all-time. She trails recently inducted LPGA Hall of Famer Lorena Ochoa, who spent 158 weeks atop the rankings.

Starts: 9
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 4
Notable finishes: Victory at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, Runner-up Palos Verdes Championship, fourth U.S. Women’s Open
Last month: 1st

4. Atthaya Thitikul

Thitikul’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year lead teetered at the PGA Championship as she entered the weekend tied for 41st while Hye-Jin Choi, her top competitor, sat in ninth.

Instead, the No. 4 player in the world delivered the lowest score Saturday to vault into sixth place. Thitikul followed through with a fourth-place finish, two strokes behind In Gee Chun’s winning mark. She now holds a 53-point edge over Choi, who ended up T-5 at Congressional’s Blue Course.

The Thai teenager has been one of the most consistent players on tour, riding back-to-back top-5s into the Amundi Evian Championship this week. She’s leading the LPGA with 4.3 birdies per round. Her ability to score low makes her a constant threat to top leaderboards this season.

Starts: 14
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 6
Notable finishes: Victory at the JTBC Classic, fourth KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, T-4 HSBC Women’s World Championship
Last month: 4th

5. Lydia Ko

Ko’s ironwoman top-30 streak finally ended with a T-46 finish at the PGA Championship. The result came a year after her last finish outside the top-30, with a T-52 at the 2021 PGA. This week, she has her first opportunity to win a major championship since the 2016 ANA Inspiration.

“I think we all try and peak at the majors,” Ko said at the U.S. Women’s Open. “You’re just trying to play the best golf you can and, at the same time, not think of it any differently than any other event. But to play solid, I think it just shows what point my game is at. I know there are things to improve, but there’s still a lot of good from there.”

Ko has played her most consistent golf at the Evian Resort Course. Including her maiden major win in 2015, she’s posted six top-10s in eight starts at the Amundi Evian Championship.

Starts: 12
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 6
Notable finishes: Win at the Gainbridge LPGA, T-3 Palos Verdes Championship, Fifth U.S. Women’s Open
Last month: 2nd

6. Brooke Henderson

Henderson’s victory at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club completed a boomerang of a season for Canada’s winningest golfer. The 24-year-old started the season on a tear with four top-10s, including a second-place finish to earn fifth place in the first edition of these power rankings.

Then Henderson faltered. She withdrew from the Lotte Championship and missed the cut in both Los Angeles-area tournaments.

Henderson has since turned her season around, finishing within the top 16 in her last four starts. That run includes her 11th-career victory at the Shoprite LPGA Classic. Despite the rollercoaster nature of her season, Henderson is third on the tour with a 69.791 scoring average.

Starts: 13
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 6
Notable finishes: Victory at the Shoprite LPGA Classic, runner-up Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, T-4 Honda LPGA Thailand
Last month: Not Ranked

After losing her lead at the PGA Championship last month, Lexi Thompson hasn't won a major since 2014. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

7. Lexi Thompson

Not all runner-ups are created equal. Thompson’s runner-up finish at the PGA Championship was her fourth at a major, and came after she squandered a two-stroke lead to Chun on the final three holes. Thompson’s lone major victory remains her title at the 2014 ANA Inspiration.

That low moment doesn’t take away from Thompson’s impressive campaign near the top of leaderboards. All of her top-10 finishes this season have come inside the top 6. Thompson’s 69.6 scoring average is second only to Lee. She’s hitting the most greens in regulation (76.8 percent) of any player on tour. Thompson missed her first cut of the season at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last week, and the 27-year-old is fourth in the Annika Rolex Major award, one win away from seizing the lead.

Thompson took a chance off the board by not entering the field at the Amundi Evian Championship field this week. Instead, she’ll have to wait for her opportunity at major redemption when she tees off at the AIG Women’s Open.

Starts: 10
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 6
Notable finishes: T-2 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, T-4 Chevron Championship, second LPGA Drive On Championship Crown Colony
Last month: 5th

8. Nasa Hataoka

After missing the cut at the LOTTE Championship in April, the Japanese star started working with a new coach and has turned her season around. Including a win at the DIO Implant LA Open, she’s finished in the top-6 in four of her last six starts.

Her last top-6 was a T-5 at the PGA Championship. Her final-round 69 at Congressional Country Club was the only score in the 60s on Sunday for her best finish at a major this season.

Starts: 14
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 4
Notable finishes: Victory at DIO Implant LA Open, T-5 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Last month: 3rd

9. In Gee Chun

Chun’s first-round 64 at the PGA Championship matched Mickey Wright’s five-stroke opening round lead at the same tournament in 1961. No one else even got to eight-under par at any other point that week. Chun followed it up with a three-under 69 in the second round, giving her a six-shot cushion entering the weekend. After losing the lead, she came back to win the fourth LPGA title of her career.

Only Anna Nordqvist (three) and Inbee Park (four) have won as many different major championships as Chun, who added the PGA trophy to her victories at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2016 Evian Championship.

Starts: 13
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 2
Notable finishes: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Win, T-2 HSBC Women’s PGA Championship
Last month: Not Ranked

10. Hye-Jin Choi

The rookie leads the LPGA in top-10 finishes this season, made more impressive by the fact the 22-year-old is seeing some of these courses for the first time.

Because of her success in South Korea, however, she has made major starts on the LPGA Tour before this year. As an amateur, she finished runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and she made two starts at the Amundi Evian Championship in 2017 (T-14) and 2019 (T-49).

Starts: 14
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 8
Notable finishes: Third U.S. Women’s Open, Third Lotte Championship, T-5 KPMG Women’s PGA 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.