Lydia Ko, with four victories this year, and five-times champion Ariya Jutanugarn are engaged in a riveting battle at the top of the world rankings

They are both indefatigable fighters, currently two of the most talented golfers in the sport, and they are immersed in a silent battle to be number one on the US LPGA Tour at the end of the season –effectively the leading player in the world.

At the moment, the war is intensifying and there are skirmishes every week, with advances and retreats on both sides. Leading the way, and fiercely defending her position, is the Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko. And challenging her with solid and accurate shots, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn.

The state of the battlefield at the time of going to press was illuminating… Lydia was number one both on the LPGA Tour and in the world rankings; while Ariya was second on both lists. The New Zealander, who debuted on the tour in 2015 (while her main rival did so in 2016), had accumulated $2,424,950 in prizemoney, compared with $2,300,957 by the Thai, although the latter had competed in three more tournaments – albeit missing the cut in one of those (no doubt a cause of some displeasure, even if it was the only time so far this year). The Thai star had surpassed her colleague in number of victories: five to Lydia’s four.

Both won Grand Slam titles in 2016: Lydia the Ana Inspiration and Ariya the Women’s British Open. In the Women’s PGA Championship, the New Zealander was second and the Thai third.