Lydia Ko fending off Ariya Jutanugarn in race for number one world ranking

Lydia Ko his a fourth-round 68.
Andrew Redington/ GETTY

Lydia Ko his a fourth-round 68.

Despite another top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko's closest rival is closing in on the world golf rankings

Ariya Jutanugarn was second in the latest tournament on the tour, the LPGA Founders Cup in Arizona, where Ko finished in a tie for eighth.

Ko didn't hit a single bogey in her four rounds, finishing at 20-under for the tournament with a four-under 68 on the final day.

Those are solid numbers, and show Ko is looking back towards her best after an offseason of change, be it her coach, clubs and more.

READ MORE: Lydia Ko storms into contention in Phoenix

But Jutanugarn better Ko yet again, finishing in a tie for second at 23-under, two shots behind winner Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.

The battle between the two golfers is becoming a great rivalry, with Jutanugarn edging ever closer in the world golf rankings over the past year.

The latest rankings, released on March 13, showed Ko on 484.54 points, ahead of Jutanugarn on 452.54. The next best is Shanshan Feng, more than 100 points further back.

With a higher places finish in Arizona, the Thai golfer is expected to close that gap further.

Top Kiwi mens golfer Danny Lee, meanwhile, is back in the top 100 after a 17th place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida.

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Lee shot a five-under-par 67 on the final day, a score eight shots better than that of his opening round.

The Kiwi finished three-under for the tournament, alongside Americans Luke List, Pat Perez, Michael Kim and Kyle Stanley, and Australian Greg Chalmers.

It was another Australian who claimed the title, with Marc Leishman booking an 11th-hour Masters berth with a one-shot victory.

Leishman set up his victory at the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since the legendary golfer's death in September when he grabbed the outright lead by holing a 51-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th before making par saves on the last two holes.

"You see guys win and he (Palmer) is waiting there on the back of the green and to not have that is obviously very sad, but to win here is just a dream come true," said Leishman.

The win carried a huge bonus for Leishman in the form of a start in the year's first major, the Masters at Augusta National starting on April 6.

 - Stuff

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