Pettersen could get closer to No. 1 ranking in Taiwan

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Suzann Pettersen can’t get to No. 1 winning the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship this week, but she’ll move closer to her goal of overtaking Inbee Park before the year is out.

Pettersen continued her torrid second-half run Thursday, taking the first-round lead in Taiwan. With a 4-under-par 68, she grabbed a three-shot advantage on four players, including Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall.

With a tie for third at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship last week, Pettersen moved within one average ranking point of overtaking Park as No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Park, who isn’t playing this week, tops the rankings with 11.98 average points. Pettersen is now at 11.09.

With a not particularly strong field in play this week, Pettersen only moves to 11.32 points with a win in Taiwan, while Park would stay at 11.98.

Since missing the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, Pettersen has finished: T-6, T-4, T-7, Win, Win, T-3, T-3. She said last week that she is trying to take No. 1 before the year is out but won’t be overly disappointed if she doesn’t. She has never held the No. 1 ranking.

“It’s not really a big surprise,” Pettersen said of her hot play. “I feel more and more comfortable with what I do, and, obviously, the older you get, the more you know. I've played good for 12 months.”

When Park won the U.S. Women’s Open three months ago, she topped the world rankings with 13.27 average points. Pettersen missed the cut that week and sat way behind Park with 7.92 average points. Park has one top-10 finish in her last eight starts.