The Race to the CME Globe just got a lot easier to understand and a lot more lucrative to win. Beginning in 2019, the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will have a $5 million purse – matching the richest in women’s golf – and the winner will pocket $1.5 million, the largest first prize in the women’s game.
Instead of a points race that made spectators and TV viewers do a lot of math on Sunday to figure out who among the 72 players would win the $1 million bonus, now points will be used to determine a 60-player field, then the points will disappear and anyone who makes it to the Tiburón Golf Club will have a chance at the big prize -- which has increased by 50 percent.
The move doubles the Tour Championship prize money from $2.5 million to $5 million, matching the U.S. Women’s Open as the richest in women’s golf. The Women’s Open made out a check for $900,000 to Ariya Jutanugarn, this year’s winner. Next year, the CME Group Tour Championship victor gets nearly double that.
“CME Group has made a huge impact on the LPGA Tour during our nine years together, and today’s news is an absolute game changer for the LPGA and its members,” Commissioner Mike Whan said Tuesday at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla. “With the Race to the CME Globe, we already had a grand finish to the LPGA Tour season. With these changes, it’s now bigger money, smaller field, and any player in the Tour Championship can win – game on!”
Also evolving is the charitable component to the tournament. Through the CME Group Cares Challenge – Score 1 for St. Jude, the CME Group will donate $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2019, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
So far this year, there have been 25 holes-in-won on the LPGA Tour, which would result in a $625,000 donation from CME Group if the new system were in place. Proceeds will help assure than no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude, which researches for cures and treats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
“We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the LPGA and its players and are extremely pleased to further elevate our support of women’s golf,” said CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy.
“Along with these changes to the CME Group Tour Championship, we will be evolving our CME Group Cares Challenge by introducing a new Score 1 for St. Jude program to support the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital mission of finding cures and saving lives,” Duffy said.
As in previous seasons, players will accumulate points at each official LPGA Tour event. All tournaments will have the same point value in the Race to the CME Globe, except for the five major championships, which will be worth 25 percent more. Winners of official LPGA Tour events will earn 500 points while major champions will earn 35 points. Only LPGA Tour members are eligible to earn points in the Race.
The CME Globe Tour Championship and Race to the CME Globe bonus competition infused new life – and new money – into the LPGA Tour’s season-sending event when it came to be in 2011. Now, CME has built on that success to take women’s golf to a new level.
More money for the players and a less complicated format for the fans. Talk about a win-win situation. And ultimately, the changers will all help the real winners of this alliance – the children who depend on St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Something good just got a lot better.