There shouldn’t be any question this time that Ariya Jutanugarn is taking over the No. 1 spot on the Rolex Rankings. Not after her victory Sunday at the Manulife LPGA Classic.
The 21-year-old from Thailand outlasted Lexi Thompson and In Gee Chun in a playoff to claim her first LPGA title of 2017. The victory should push her past Lydia Ko as the top women’s player in the world when the numbers are officially crunched on Monday, ending an 85-week run that was believed to have been broken last week.
A bug in the projections for the Rolex Rankings meant that Ko was still barely hanging on to the top spot, .01 points ahead of Jutanugarn entering the Canadian tour stop, where Ko was not playing.
“To be honest, I didn’t pay attention with the ranking,” Jutanugarn said. “I only want to go out and have fun.”
Jutanugarn started Sunday at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ontario, three strokes back of Thompson, but rallied with a closing three-under 69 to get to 17-under 271 overall. Meanwhile, Thompson, who at one point held a four-stroke lead on Sunday, stumbled home. She bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes, missing a four-footer for par on the latter, and played the final seven holes of the round in three over par for an even-par 72. It meant that she, Chun and Jutanugarn had to return to the par-4 18th for a sudden-death playoff. There, Jutanugarn made birdie to seal her sixth career LPGA title but her first in a playoff.
This was Thompson’s second playoff loss of the season—the other coming infamously at the ANA Inspiration—and leaves her with a 0-3 playoff record on tour.
“I made everything, it seemed like, all week,” Thompson said, “and then just two last putts I guess on the last two holes … actually last three holes. I had like a five-footer, six-footer, and about a four-footer and missed them all. If I made those I would've won, but that's golf I guess.”
Besides overtaking Ko on the Rolex Rankings, Jutanugarn also jumped So Yeon Ryu from No. 2 to No. 1 on the Race to the CME Globe points list. However, Jutanugarn’s celebration plans are awfully tame. She says she’ll be texting her sister, Moriya, and getting some sleep in the car as she and her caddie drive to Grand Rapids, Mich., for next week’s LPGA event.