Sports Digest: Thai teenager Atthaya Thitikul is now No. 1 in the women’s golf rankings

GOLF

Thai teenager Atthaya Thitikul reached No. 1 in the world women’s rankings on Monday, becoming the 16th player and second youngest to make it to the top since the rankings began in 2006.

Thitikul had a chance to reach #1 by winning one of her last three tournaments on the LPGA Tour. Instead, the 19-year-old replaced Jin Young Ko of South Korea in a week that she wasn’t playing.

Thitikul heads to the Toto Japan Classic to make her #1 debut.

“It’s very special to get to the top, but it’s much more difficult to keep it,” said Thitikul.

Her first full year on the LPGA Tour was consistent rather than great. Thitikul has won twice – in California a week before the first Major and in Arkansas – and 12 other finishes in the top 10.

She finished last year ranked No. 19 in the world after a two-win season on the Ladies European Tour, benefiting from strong play and injuries at the top.

Nelly Korda, who started the year at No. 1, underwent surgery for a blood clot in her left arm and was out for four months.

Ko started her season by winning the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore and has been No1 since late January. But she is struggling with a left wrist injury that kept her out for two months and then retired on her return to BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea back.

That paved the way for Thitikul, who has finished in the top 10 in her last five starts.

Thitikul is the fourth player to reach No. 1 without winning a Major, after Lydia Ko in 2015, Ai Miyazato in 2010 and Lorena Ochoa.

Lydia Ko remains the youngest No. 1, getting there for the first time at 17.

Thitikul became the youngest player to win a professional golf tournament at the Ladies European Thailand Championship in 2017 at 14 years and 4 months. That was one of her four LET wins.

She joins Sung Hyun Park as the only player to reach #1 during her rookie season on the LPGA Tour. Park had won 10 times at the Korea LPGA before coming to America.

Jin Young Ko was No. 1 four times for a total of 152 weeks, missing seven weeks to break the record for most weeks at No. 1 set by Ochoa from April 2007 until her surprise retirement three years later.

TENNIS

PARISIAN CHAMPIONS: Taylor Fritz of the United States continued to fight for one of the two remaining ATP Finals spots by defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 7-5, 6-2 in the first round in Paris.

Nine-seeded Fritz bounced back from a 4-2 deficit in the opening set to claim second place by winning the last four games. Davidovich Fokina made 24 unforced errors, only nine for Fritz.

Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic have already qualified for the ATP Finals.

Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz are in the running to round out the field of eight.

No. 13 seeded Matteo Berrettini retired with a left foot injury and was replaced in the main draw by lucky loser Fabio Fognini.

Jannik Sinner and Marin Cilic were the only seeded players eliminated.

No. 11 Sinner lost to Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-2, 6-3, and No. 15 Cilic was stunned to equal Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-4.

John Isner, Cameron Norrie, Karen Khachanov, Maxime Cressy, Richard Gasquet, Yoshihito Nishioka and Nikoloz Basilashvili also advanced to the second round.

Isner made a winning comeback on his return from a wrist injury by defeating qualifier Oscar Otte 6-4, 7-6(3).

The American broke to make it 4-3 and saved two set points in the second set to make it 5-4. He took a 6-0 lead in the tie-break and his 19th ace won the match.
Isner will play number 7 Rublev next.

Nishioka defeated Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4 and is next up against leaders Alcaraz.

No. 12 seed Norrie drove past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 6-4 while Khachanov ousted Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1 and Basilashvili beat qualifier Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-4.

Wild Card Gasquet beat Alex Molcan 6-3, 6-1 and Cressy defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3.

FOOTBALL

US WOMEN: Alex Morgan was included in the USA women’s squad for two exhibition games against Germany after missing the team’s final games in Europe with a knee injury.

Mallory Pugh and Taylor Kornieck, who also missed out on the Americans’ losses to England and Spain earlier this month, have also been added to the 24-man roster.

Goalkeeper Adrianna France received her first cap since last year.

Morgan, who won the National Women’s Soccer League golden boot with 15 goals for the San Diego Wave this season, needs two more appearances to become the 13th player to play in 200 games for the United States

USA, No. 1 in the FIFA rankings, end the year with games against Germany on November 10 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and on November 13 in Harrison, New Jersey. His current two-game skid is the first in 5 1/2 years.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: The Football Federation of Ukraine called on FIFA to ban Iran from next month’s World Cup over allegations of human rights abuses and arms supply to the Russian military.

The call comes three weeks before Iran are due to play England in the first Group B game in Qatar. The group also includes the United States and Wales.

The Ukrainian FA’s executive committee did not demand that Iran be replaced at the tournament by the Ukrainian team, which lost to Wales in a European play-off final in June.

Iran should be replaced by Ukraine, the country’s top club Shakhtar Donetsk proposed in a similar appeal to FIFA last week.

FIFA has not commented on Ukraine’s requests and does not normally suspend member associations based on military decisions by a national government.

• France midfielder Paul Pogba will miss the World Cup with a persistent knee problem.

Pogba only returned to training with Juventus this month after undergoing surgery on his right knee in early September.

He has not played since returning from Manchester United to Juventus and was injured again. Tests in Turin and Pittsburgh confirmed Pogba, 29, will not be fit for the World Cup in time.

AC MILAN: Coach Stefano Pioli was rewarded for winning the title with a two-year contract extension with the defending champion.

Milan announced that 57-year-old Pioli has signed a new contract until June 2025. His previous contract expired at the end of this season.

HORSE RACE

BREEDER CUP: The undefeated Flightline is the 3-5 morning line favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and will start Saturday’s $6 million season finale in Keeneland from the No. 4 position.

The 4-year-old bay colt was the first contestant to be announced by Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari in Monday’s draw at Rupp Arena, home of the fourth-place Wildcats. Flightline enjoyed a 19 1/4 dominance of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in September.

Flightline is looking to 6 against an eight-horse field that includes Kentucky Derby Longshot winner Rich Strike, who will start the 1 1/4 mile race from No. 8 at odds of 20-1: 0 improve – and Horse of the Year nominee Epicenter, the 5-1 second pick from the No. 6 post. Life Is Good is the 6-1 third pick from the No. 2 post.

Taiba will start off the rail at odds of 8-1 for embattled Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert, who will be returning to Kentucky for the first time since he was suspended by Kentucky race commissioners for 90 days earlier this year after his Stallion Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test after the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

The colt has three wins this year and a second in five career starts, most recently winning the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.


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