Golf

Thai Ariya is South-east Asia's first world No. 1 women's golfer

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn will become the first women's golfer from South-east Asia to hold the top spot since the world rankings were created in 2006.

The 21-year-old from Bangkok will replace Lydia Ko as the top-ranked player in women's golf today, after South Korea's Ryu So Yeon - her rival for the No. 1 spot - missed the cut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Ko, who has held the top spot for 84 weeks, is not playing in the event and was certain to relinquish her crown to either Ariya, another absentee in New Jersey, or Ryu, who had to finish at least third to displace the New Zealander.

However, the South Korean, who won her second LPGA Major at the ANA Inspiration in April, bowed out early in New Jersey, thereby ensuring Ariya would become No. 1 when the rankings are released today.

Ariya will become the 10th player, and the first from Thailand, to hold top spot.

Swede Annika Sorenstam was the first player to have the honour and was subsequently followed by Lorena Ochoa, Shin Jiyai, Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, Tseng Ya-ni, Stacy Lewis, Park Inbee and Ko.

Mexican Ochoa holds the record for the longest stint as world No. 1 at 158 weeks.

Meanwhile, Kim In Kyung and Paula Creamer took the second-round lead as Anna Nordqvist's quest for a third successive victory faltered at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey yesterday morning.

South Korean Kim and American Creamer shot matching scores of four-under 67 to surge to the front at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway.

At nine-under 133, they will head into the final round this morning two clear of Swede Nordqvist, South Korean Lee Jeong Eun and Thai Moriya Jutanugarn, younger sister of new world No. 1 Ariya. - REUTERS