Lexi Thompson has never been mathematically closer to seizing the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Thompson moved to No. 2 this week and sits just 98 thousandths of a point behind Shanshan Feng in the world rankings math.
It makes for an intriguing week with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Thompson and No. 3 Sung Hyun Park grouped together in Thursday’s start of the HSBC Women’s World Championship.
“I think everybody wants to be No. 1 in the world,” Thompson said. “It’s always our goal. But you have to take it one tournament at a time. All you can control is your game, your attitude and what you do out here. That’s really all I’m trying to focus on, is just have more fun out on the golf course with my caddie, Kevin [McAlpine].”
Feng is No. 1 with an average world ranking of 7.331. Thompson at 7.233, Park at 6.666.
The strength-of-field rating for the HSBC Women’s World Championship that is required for world ranking projections won’t be set until the tournament starts on Thursday.
Thompson would have passed Feng to go to No. 1 at the CME Group Tour Championship in the final event last year if she had made a 2-foot putt at the last hole, but her miss there allowed Feng to hold on to the top spot through the offseason.
Feng, who had just moved to No. 1 before the CME, has reigned atop the rankings for 16 consecutive weeks.
Feng joked Tuesday that she was No. 1 for a good two months in the offseason without expending much effort.
“I didn’t do anything,” she said. “I was just eating and sleeping and I was world No. 1.”
Thompson was asked in Singapore about how she dealt with that miss over the offseason.
“I look at it is that I’m human and putts are going to be missed, and I still won the Race to the CME Globe,” Thompson said.
Feng said having the top spot motivated her in the offseason.
“I was world No. 1 the whole winter, and I really wanted to keep up my good playing, so I practiced a little bit more than normal,” she said. “I came out this year and played well in the Bahamas, and so that really gave me a lot of confidence. It reminds me how well I was playing at the end of the year last year. I’m trying to keep up the same feeling, same condition.”
Feng and Thompson are both off to strong starts.
Feng tied for third at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic and tied for fifth at the Honda LPGA Thailand last week.
Thompson tied for sixth in the Bahamas and tied for second in Thailand, where she had to overcome a two-shot penalty in the second round for moving a sign she mistakenly believed was a moveable object. A local rule made the sign a temporary immoveable object.
While the penalty inevitably brought back reminders of the controversial four-shot penalty Thompson was assessed last year at the ANA Inspiration, where she looked to be running away with the championship, it didn’t prove as costly. She ended up losing the ANA in a playoff. She finished four shots behind Jessica Korda in Thailand.
Thompson reiterated how last year’s challenges, including watching her mother overcome a second bout of cancer, strengthened her.
“I feel stronger than ever,” she said.