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Golf: Park, Lewis fight for LPGA top ranking in Texas

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World number one Park Inbee of South Korea and second-ranked American Stacy Lewis will fight for the top spot again this week at the inaugural Texas LPGA Shootout that starts on Thursday.

The $1.3 million event is the first LPGA stop in the "Lone Star" state in more than 20 years and features 144 players with a cut to the top 70 and ties after 36 holes and a second cut to the low 50 and ties after 54 holes.

Lewis has won two titles this season and became the first US player to claim the top ranking, holding the spot for four weeks until Park took over one week after her major victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this month.

"For sure I'm really happy with that," Park said. "I'm very happy with the way I played with the pressure."

Park won her first major title at the 2008 US Open and also won last year's LPGA Championship, a crown she is set to defend in June. In the past 10 months she has won four times and finished in the top 10 on another 11 occasions worldwide.

And staying as world number one is in her thoughts.

"I am concerned about number one just because I could lose the spot in one week or two weeks," Park said. "I try not to think about it too much, but it's in my mind for sure. That's something I play for every week.

"I'm just very honoured that I can play for number one every week, just happy to be one of the players that plays for number one. That's very good and something very special.

"It would be nice if I could continue for a long time in the number one spot but number one spot is some spot that you got to come down at some point. You can't be number one forever."

Having the top spot up for grabs should build greater interest in the LPGA Tour, Park said.

"Every week is unexpected," she said. "A lot of different players can become number one. They can't expect only this person to win and she's going to run away with the win. You can't really expect that in this kind of situation.

"I think this makes it interesting to us and the fans also."

Lewis, who is playing in her home state, needs to finish fifth or better to have a chance at dethroning Park this week.

"It's cool to be number one and nice to get to that point, but it's not something I think about all the time," Lewis said.

"It's a result of good play, of winning tournaments. That's what I want to do every week, win the tournament. If I have a chance to win going into Sunday, that's what I want. That's my goal every week. Rankings do matter, but it's not something you think about every hole or shot."

Lewis is the American point woman against a host of top Asian talent but is more concerned about her game than her rivals' skills or homelands.

"It's something that as one of the top Americans for the past few years I've been asked about a lot, why all these players from Asia are playing so well and we aren't," Lewis said.

"I can't talk about anybody else. For me, I just want to let my play speak for itself."

For Lewis, the secret to being number one is putting.

"I played Inbee Park so many times and she might be the best putter on tour. I don't know how she makes all the putts she does," Lewis said. "Putting wins golf tournaments. That's what gets you to number one in the world. That's something I've been focused on really over the last few years."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130424/golf-park-lewis-fight-lpga-top-ranking-texas