It all comes down to this.
What began in January in the LPGA’s home state of Florida has come full circle and will culminate this week at the $2 million CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., where everything will be on the line for two of the Tour’s brightest stars. Lydia Ko and Inbee Park have put together phenomenal seasons and have been intertwined in a battle for the ages down the stretch this season, and it will all be decided via four final rounds at Tiburon Golf Club.
Park, the 2013 Rolex Player of the Year, earned a crucial victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and JTBC in Mexico City on Sunday to close the gap on Ko, who is looking to claim her second consecutive Race to the CME Globe title. The world’s top two-ranked players each have five victories this season, with top-ranked Ko holding a 276-273 lead in the Rolex Player of the Year standings and a 4,913-4,444 advantage in the Race to the CME Globe points standings.
With a whopping 3,500 points up for grabs this week in the Race to the CME Globe, the top nine players are mathematically alive to become the Race to the CME Globe Champion. Ko, Park and third-ranked Stacy Lewis have the inside track, however, on the title and it’s $1 million bonus because of the finishing format for the Naples event.
Ko leads Park $2,758,417 to $2,570,096 in the battle for the LPGA money title, but a player can do what Ko did last year and win the tournament while picking up the seven-figure bonus for a $1.5 million pay day. That should make this particular race quite interesting come Sunday.
In addition, the Vare Trophy – awarded for the lowest scoring average – is up for grabs, with Park (69.4333) just lower than Ko (69.4494). Both players have the ability to put up plenty of red numbers, so those close to them will be counting strokes this weekend.
The dynamic duo has created a razor-thin scenario where anything can happen on Sunday afternoon. The real winner, of course, is women’s golf.
Here’s a capsule look at the two players’ accomplishments and standings from this season heading into what should be a drama-filled finale.
World ranking: 1
Race to the CME Globe points: 5,000 (1st)
Rolex Player of the Year points: 276 (1st)
Earnings: $2,758,417 (1st)
Scoring average: 69.4944 (2nd)
Top 10s: 16
Major titles: 1
World ranking: 2
Race to the CME Globe points: 4,500 (2nd)
Rolex Player of the Year points: 273 (2nd)
Earnings: $2,570,096 (2nd)
Scoring average: 69.4333 (1st)
Top 10s: 14
Major titles: 2