The women’s amateur game is clearly in good health when distinguished golf writers vote Lydia Ko’s exploits as the highlight of the LPGA season.
The 15-year-old New Zealander has led the World Amateur Golf Ranking all year. She proved why she was worthy of that ranking when she finished highest individual player in the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey.
Already winner of the US Women’s Amateur Championship, Ko also impressed in two majors. She was leading amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open Championships.
However, it was her victory in the Canadian Women’s Open Championship that impressed one of the world’s leading authorities on women’s golf. In a top 10 round up of the LPGA season, Golfweek’s Beth Ann Baldry voted Ko’s victory as the highlight of the season.
“Hands down the most impressive moment of the year came at the CN Canadian Women’s Open when Lydia Ko birdied five out of six holes on the back nine Sunday to become the youngest player to win an LPGA title at 15 years, 4 months and 2 days,” Baldry wrote. “She can’t legally drive a golf cart, yet has the chops to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur and an LPGA event in back-to-back weeks.”
High praise indeed.
Thailand’s Chirapat Jao-Javanil is the only player this week to break into the world top 20. She moves up one place to take the 20th spot.
A cosmopolitan group of players breaks into this week’s top 50. Colombia’s Cynthia Diaz climbs 24 places to take 42nd spot. Doris Chen of the United States climbs three places to 48th. Kelly Tan of Malaysia moves three spots to 49th, while Canada’s Jennifer Kirby also improves three places to become world number 50.
India’s Aditi Ashok won the All India Junior Championship and climbs 28 places this week to world number 166.
While many parts of the Northern Hemisphere are covered in thick blankets of snow or frost, it’s a testament to the rich diversity of the amateur game that tournaments continue to be played in all corners of the world. Many wouldn’t associate Uruguay and the royal & ancient game, for example, yet Uruguayan Juan Alvarez takes the headlines this week for winning the Abierto Ciudad de Montevideo in his homeland.
Alvarez makes arguably the most significant improvement on this week’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. He climbs 63 places to world number 123 following victory in one of his country’s most prestigious tournaments.
Uruguay isn’t the only country holding important championships at this time of year, however. India’s Viraj Madappa won the All India Junior Championship and improves 70 places on this week’s ranking to world number 682. Singapore’s Nicklaus Chiam won the HSBC Youth Challenge – 3rd Leg in his homeland and breaks into the world top 1,000. He climbs 154 places to world number 875.
Thailand’s Phanuwich Onchu won the Kids World Championship in Malaysia and jumps 354 places to world number 2672.
Back on more familiar ground, Chip Lutz of the United States won the SOS Ralph Bogart Tournament in Palm City, Florida, and climbs 49 spots to 184th.
Australia’s Brady Watt is the only player this week to break into the world top 20, becoming the highest ranked player from Down Under as a result. Watt moves up one position to 20th, replacing Oliver Goss as Australia’s top amateur after Goss slipped two places to 21st.
It’s a good week for English amateur golf with Craig Hinton and Ben Stow making significant moves. Hinton, who represented England in the World Amateur Team Championship, climbs 17 places to 63rd. Stow, a student at the University of Kentucky, improves 28 places to world number 71.