Golf Tidbits: Ko's meteoric rise to No. 1

Philadelphia, PA ( - Lydia Ko's ascension to the top spot in the Women's World Golf Rankings is both remarkable and confounding at the same times.

The 17-year-old Ko turned professional at the end of the 2013 season. She has wracked up five LPGA Tour titles, two of which came while she was still an amateur.

Ko has four more titles around the world that have helped her soar to No. 1 in the rankings. She is the youngest golfer ever, male or female, to reach that plateau.

But her rise also brings up the confounding nature of the world rankings. There is no doubt Ko is one of the top two or three players in the world, but the simple math doesn't add up to her being No. 1.

Using just LPGA Tour numbers, Ko has five wins and 23 top-10 finishes since the start of 2012. Of course, the world rankings only use a two-year cycle as part of its criteria, but indulge me.

Ko's numbers are nice, but let's compare them to Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis, who are second and third in the rankings.

Park has 28 top-10s and nine wins since the start of 2013. Included in those nine victories are four, yes FOUR, major championships. If you throw in 2012, Park had 12 more top-10s and she claimed two more crowns.

With a tie for eighth last weekend, Lewis has posted a remarkable 38 top-10 finishes since the 2013 season opened. She also has six wins, including the second major championship title of her career. Toss in four more victories and 16 top-10s in 2012 for comparison sake.

Again, this in no way is a slight at the greatness of Ko, but she has fewer wins and fewer top-10 finishes than Park and Lewis. Ko has picked up 417.12 total ranking points, while Park has 532.11 and Lewis has 494.23.

On points alone, and four major championship wins in the last two years, Park should still be No. 1.

However, the rankings have a divisor of events played and that is how Ko comes out on top. In the rankings period, Ko has played just 43 events versus 56 for Lewis and 55 for Park.

Though she is 115 total points behind Park and 77 behind Lewis, Ko's average points (9.70) are the most of the three. And average points are how players are ranked.

Ko's divisor will rise as she enters her second full year on the LPGA Tour and plays more events. And with that, the trio will likely rotate in and out of the top spot in the rankings all year.

Lewis could have risen to No. 1 with a win this past week in Florida, but she ended in a tie for eighth after sharing the first-round lead. All three are in the field this week, so there could easily be another No. 1 next week.

Ko broke Tiger Woods' record for youngest world No. 1 and will continue to break records through her career. This record may not add up, but she would have risen to No. 1 sooner or later, and for this record, it was sooner.


Brooks Koepka rallied for his first PGA Tour win on Sunday at the Phoenix Open, but that was far from his first professional victory.

The 24-year-old already had five professional victories to his name, but all five were overseas. Koepka turned pro in 2012 after playing for Florida State.

He and roommate Peter Uihlein, who played collegiately at Oklahoma State, headed for Europe, where they landed on the Challenge Tour, which is equivalent to the Tour.

Koepka found early success as he won a Challenge Tour event in 2012. He won three more Challenge Tour events in 2013 to earn a promotion to the European Tour. He played nine European Tour events the remainder of that season and earned four top-25 finishes.

Last season through 12 events, he posted four top-10 finishes, including a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open and a share of 15th at the PGA Championship. He played three of the four finals series events on the European Tour, earning his first victory on that circuit at the Turkish Airlines Open. That win helped him follow Uihlein as the European Tour's rookie of the year.

His win in Turkey followed a pair of top-10 finishes in the early portion of the 2014-15 PGA Tour schedule.

The victory in Phoenix opens plenty of doors for Koepka. He now has full status on both tours, and has earned a spot in the Masters. He hasn't climbed into the top 10 on the Presidents Cup points list yet, but with three top-10 finishes in his first three starts, he has at least put his name in contention to be a captains pick.

Koepka may not have taken the direct path to the PGA Tour like Jordan Spieth or Woods, but he has entered the discussion of top young American talent.


* Rory McIlroy picked up another dominating win in Dubai over the weekend. That makes it seven straight European Tour starts in which he has finished first or second.

* Even with Woods and Phil Mickelson missing the cut at the Phoenix Open last weekend, and bad weather all day Friday, the tournament still broke its own attendance record with 564,368 fans. Guess it didn't hurt that the Super Bowl was across town in Glendale, Arizona.