NAPLES, Fla. - Ariya Jutanugarn clinched the 2016 Rolex Player of the Year Award, the season-long Race to the CME Globe title and the 2016 Money Title following a T4 finish (-14) at the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday.
Jutanugarn’s 268 points put her 20 points clear of second place Lydia Ko, who needed to win the Tour Championship in order to capture Rolex Player of the Year honors for a second consecutive season.
“It’s great,” Jutanugarn said of being the Rolex Player of the Year. “It’s like my dream come true. I never think like my name can be in this trophy, and right now I’m really proud of myself.”
In her second season on Tour, Jutanugarn broke through in a major way leading the LPGA with five wins, including her first major championship. “May” started her run in May with a win at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic to become the first player from Thailand to win on the LPGA Tour and then won the next two events, the Kingsmill Championship and the LPGA Volvik Championship, becoming the first player in Tour history to have the first three wins of her career come in consecutive tournaments. Jutanugarn went back-to-back again with victories at RICOH Women’s British Open and the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. She is the first-ever major champion (male or female) from Thailand.
“You know even like last year I miss like ten cut in a row,” said Jutanugarn, “but I feel really appreciate it. Because if that thing not happen I’m not going to win all this stuff this year. This year just like try my best, so I am not really worry about in the past. Try to be focus on positive thing, not think about all like bad thing.”
Jutanugarn has risen to No. 2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and had 10 additional top-10 finishes this season to go along with her five victories in 28 starts. She also set a new record for most birdies in a single season with 469, passing Stacy Lewis’ mark in 2014 by 18. Jutanugarn was one of nine Rolex First-Time Winners in 2016.
In addition to winning the Rolex Player of the Year, Jutanugarn won her first career LPGA Money Title and Race to the CME Globe Title taking home the season-ending $1 million bonus.