It took a season of work to get to this point and no one wanted to jinx their shot at the box and Race to the CME Globe title.
“I don’t want to touch it,” Lewis said. “I don’t even want to think about it.”
But everyone knows that’s pretty much unavoidable. With three rounds left, there’s too much at stake. The Vare Trophy. Rolex Player of the Year. Official Money List title. Rolex No. 1 ranking. And, of course, that $1 million in the Race to the CME Globe box.
“I think everybody is thinking about the $1 million, yeah,” Park said with a laugh.
The only one not thinking about it is the 17-year-old that still gets a $15 allowance from her mom for every birdie she makes.
“No, not at all,” Ko said when asked if she was thinking about a million.
You definitely saw the nerves early Thursday from Ko’s partners in the final group though. Lewis, who hit a squirrely couple tee shots early Thursday, said it felt like the first round of a U.S. Women’s Open, and it took her 12 holes before she felt like she calmed down and “quit babying it” as she put it.
“I think we were all kind of a little bit nervous, a little bit hesitant there at the beginning, but we seemed to all kind of settle in,” Lewis said. “You’re worried about making a mistake or a big number. You know, that was the hardest part. We both played some tentative golf today, and hopefully we can both free it up as we go throughout the week.
“It’s going to be a long week that we were feeling that on a Thursday.”
Previously at the end of the season, there was really only a few players that had a significant amount at stake in the year’s final event. But now with the Race to the CME Globe implemented in which nine players are guaranteed to have a shot at a million, the tension around the CME Group Tour Championship has been palpable among all. There’s a buzz that the season-long points race has added and it’s a fitting close to a season where each story written seems to top the previous week’s tale.
“It seems like the last couple events [before] everybody was saying they just want to enjoy and not care so much about the results, but everybody cares about the results now,” Park said.
And after round one, none of the top nine really separated themselves. As usual, Lewis and Park are right there in the rivalry that’s amounted to an end-of-season gift exchange between the two of the Tour’s most notorious prizes. Lewis won Rolex Player of the Year honors in 2012, while Park took home the Vare Trophy. Then, 2013, Park took home the Rolex Player of the Year trophy, and Lewis took the Vare Trophy. Same with the No. 1 ranking in the world. Lewis held it for four weeks, then Park took it over for 59 weeks before Lewis stole it back for 21 weeks when it was then stolen again by you guessed it, Park.
As of now, Lewis leads all but the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, but the margins are too close to call with three rounds left.
“You know, as I said, I think, honestly, there are so many things up for grabs and so many scenarios and numbers you can run through your head, you would drive yourself crazy out there trying to think of them all,” Lewis said. “I think it's easier that there are five things up for grabs than maybe one or two.”
Up for grabs but not to touch. Lewis was actually the beneficiary of the trophy jinx, watching as Yani Tseng - the third-round leader - kissed the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship trophy before her final round. Tseng then struggled through the final round as Lewis overtook her for the win. So until the trophies are handed to her on Sunday, Lewis won’t be touching them.
“I think everybody on tour ‑‑ I don't think anybody will touch a trophy before they win it now,” Lewis said.
Or the cash.