Ariya Chasing History
Ariya Jutanugarn headlines the field at the CME Group Tour Championship, where 17 of the top 20 players in the Rolex Rankings will compete in the final event of the year. Jutanugarn, who is not only the defending champion but also the No. 1 ranked player in the world, returns to Naples at the top of the women’s game. The world No. 1 has already locked up nearly all of the season’s biggest honors. She captured the Rolex Player of the Year, the Rolex Annika Major Award, the LEADERS Top 10 Competition and will finish atop the money list. Jutanugarn could sweep the remaining awards and take home the Vare Trophy, for the lowest scoring average of the year, and the million-dollar Race to the CME Globe. No player has won all the Tour’s biggest awards in a single season.
Both world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park, who finished T6 in her debut in Naples last season, and world No. 3 So Yeon Ryu are in the field this week. Rounding out the top 10 in the field are No. 5 Minjee Lee, No. 6 Nasa Hataoka, No. 7 Georgia Hall, No. 8 Lexi Thompson, No. 9 Brooke Henderson and No. 10 Jin Young Ko.
Last year in Naples, Ariya Jutanugarn held a share of the 54-hole lead and fired a final round 67 to win by one-stroke ahead of Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda. Both Americans have played a limited schedule over the season’s closing stretch. This week, Thompson makes just her third start since the Evian Championship in September. Thompson remains in search of her first win of the year as she looks to keep her winning streak alive; she’s won at least once every year on Tour since 2013. Korda also makes her return to the Tour for the first time since the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in October. Korda withdrew from the event in Shanghai due to a wrist and forearm injury and hasn’t competed since.
Winners All Around
In another incredible season of parity on the LPGA Tour, 25 different players won throughout the 2018 season. This week, 22 of the 25 winners in 2018 are in the field in Naples. Four players won multiple times with Ariya Jutanugarn and Sung Hyun Park leading the way with three victories each. Brooke Henderson and Nasa Hataoka each won twice.
The four winners of the CME Group Tour Championship are all in the field in Naples, looking to add another title to their resume. Lydia Ko, who won the 2014 season ending event, is already a winner in 2018 after breaking through for the first time in nearly two years with her win at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in April. Cristie Kerr, the 2015 champion, is looking to return to the winner’s circle for the first time in 2018 with a win on Sunday. Charley Hull captured her first victory on Tour at the 2016 playing of the CME Group Tour Championship. She returns to the field with six top 10s in 2018, but is still in search of that elusive second win. Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn is also in the field.