CAROLINE MASSON OFF AND RUNNING IN NAPLES
Caroline Masson came into the CME Group Tour Championship after a two-week break. She said she needed the time to adjust after the Tour’s Asia swing, which included a runner-up performance at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC. Masson said it was important not to overdo it with the stakes so high at this year’s season-ending event. With a second-round 66, she showed no signs of rust as she sits in solo second at -10, two shots behind leader Sei Young Kim.
“I've played really solid really the last few weeks and also the last couple days. Just giving myself a lot of birdie chances. You know, you make some, you miss some,” said Masson, who has never finished better than 35th in Naples.
Masson is bogey-free through 34 consecutive holes, with her lone bogey of the tournament coming on the second hole of the first round. She posted six birdies today, including a long putt on No. 18 to finish off strong.
“That's a tough hole. Today the wind seemed to be a little bit into, so playing longer. I hit a 4-iron in there, which is a long club to come in with, and hit a really good shot. Just went over the green just a little bit, which it's not awful but it's not easy coming through the fringe which is very grainy and downhill after that. To be honest, I hit it a little bit hard. It was tracking, though. It was on line and hit the pin and went in,” said Masson. “Just the little luck that you need sometimes, and I feel like I earned that this week giving myself chances, and once in a while you make one of these, and it really feels really good.”
JEONGEUN LEE6 RIDES AWARD-WINNING HIGH TO SECOND-ROUND SUCCESS
Thursday night’s Rolex LPGA Awards were a celebration of a historic year on the LPGA Tour. Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came when 2019 U.S. Women’s Open winner Jeongeun Lee6 accepted the Rolex Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year with a painstakingly memorized English speech. Lee6, who is working on her English skills but is still most comfortable conversing in her native Korean language, was brought to tears by the immediate standing ovation she received and said she even heard about her speech from fans during her round on Friday.
“A lot of people this morning were cheering and then they were congratulating me,” said Lee6. “They saw that, oh, she did really well with the speech, and I felt really good about it.”
Those good vibes carried over into Lee6’s second round at the CME Group Tour Championship. The 23-year-old from outside Seoul, Republic of Korea, followed up a first-round 72 with a round of 5-under 67 on Friday, carding six birdies to one bogey.
“I felt like really good feelings about today, so my shots and my putting were good so far,” said Lee6, who hit all 14 fairways on Friday. “I kind of want to try my best I can for the last two rounds.”
YU LIU ENJOYING LONG-EARNED LPGA TOUR COMFORT
2019 has been a breakout sophomore season for Yu Liu. While she has not found the winner’s circle, the 24-year-old from Beijing has earned seven top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and a tie for fifth at the U.S. Women’s Open, where she played in Sunday’s final group. The lanky player is third on Tour in greens in regulation at 76.3% and came into this week’s CME Group Tour Championship third in birdies with 374.
Liu added 11 birdies to that tally over her first two rounds of the CME Group Tour Championship, carding rounds of 71 and 66 to sit tied for sixth at -7, four strokes behind leader Sei Young Kim. She points to a growing level of comfort with life on the LPGA Tour as the prime reason for her improved play.
“I just feel like I've been getting a lot more settled in on the Tour, just getting myself adjusted well to the life out here and getting used to playing with the big names,” said Liu, who spent one season at Duke University before turning professional in 2014. “The first year I was a little scared, I don't know, here and there… I had a pretty nice pairing today playing with Sung Hyun (Park) and Amy (Olson). They're both very top players in the world. Yeah, but I was feeling very comfortable out there, so I think that was the biggest adjustment.”
SU OH ENJOYING THE BRIGHT LIGHTS IN NAPLES
On day two of the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club, Su Oh recorded seven birdies to shoot 5-under 67 and heads into the weekend solo fifth at-8 overall.
As the 2016 rookie continues the search for her first LPGA Tour victory, she is in prime position, just four shots back with 36 holes remaining. Although the season finale is not a major, her performance so far with a $1.5 million winner’s share up for grabs has come under what Oh thinks are the brightest lights on the highest stage of women’s professional golf.
“Not just the money, but the win itself would be pretty cool,” said Oh. “What CME has done with the Tour Championship is amazing and what they do for St. Jude Hospital, as well. This is by far the best and biggest tournament. It feels like what a Tour Championship should feel like. You play your way through Asia, which is a bonus really, then there's only 60 players. It’s really good to be here.”
LPGA, CME GROUP CELEBRATES ST. JUDE SURVIVORS
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. 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, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Coming into the CME Group Tour Championship, there have been 32 holes-in-one in the 2019 LPGA Tour season. Brooke Henderson is the only player to record multiple aces, with hers coming at the Meijer LPGA Classic and the Buick LPGA Shanghai. Those 32 holes-in-one translate to $640,000 donated to St. Jude, which more than covers the average cost of $425,000 needed to treat a pediatric cancer patient.
The CME Group Tour Championship is celebrating seven children who are true survivors thanks to their care at St. Jude. Mary Browder, a junior golfer, played with two-time major champion Sung Hyun Park in the pro-am and made a ceremonial opening tee shot on Thursday morning. She is joined on site by Reid, Victoria, Mikayla, Brody, Chloe and Slater, who are serving as honorary flag tenders on the 18th green. To read their inspirational stories, please visit www.lpga.com/news/2019-lpga-cme-celebrates-st-jude-survivors.
VARE TROPHY UPDATE
After the second round, Jin Young Ko has extended her lead for the lowest scoring average of the 2019 LPGA Tour season ahead of Hyo Joo Kim by 0.356. While Kim recorded a 1-under 71, Ko recorded another sub-par round with her second-round 3-under 69. Ko is ahead of Kim by four strokes and remains in good position to earn the Vare Trophy.
|Player||Entering the Week||After Round 1||After Round 2||Difference|
|Jin Young Ko||69.052||69.077||69.076||-|
|Hyo Joo Kim||69.361||69.411||69.432||0.356|
Rolex Rankings No. 11 Sei Young Kim (65-67)
- She hit 14 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Kim is in her fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she has nine career victories, most recently at the 2019 Marathon Classic presented by Dana
- This is Kim’s 25th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she has nine top-10 finishes, including victories at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship and the Marathon Classic presented by Dana
- She is competing in her fifth CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is T10 in 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 40 Caroline Masson (68-66)
- Her 134 is tied for her lowest 36-hole score of 2019; she also shot 134 at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
- She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
- Masson is in her seventh season on the LPGA Tour; she has one career victory, the 2016 Manulife LPGA Classic
- This is Masson’s 25th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she has four top-10 finishes, with a best finish of T2 at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC, where she lost in a playoff
- She is competing in her seventh CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is a tie for 35th in 2017
Rolex Rankings No. 7 Brooke Henderson (68-67)
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 25 putts
- Henderson is in her fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she has nine career victories, most recently at the 2019 Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
- This is Henderson’s 27th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she has 12 top-10 finishes, including victories at the LOTTE Championship and the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
- She is the winningest Canadian golfer, male or female, in professional golf history
- She is competing in her fifth CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is a tie for 10th in 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Nelly Korda (67-68)
- She hit 13 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
- Korda is in her third season on the LPGA Tour; she has three career victories, most recently at the 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC
- This is Korda’s 20th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she has 11 top-10 finishes, including victories at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA presented by CTBC
- She is competing in her third CME Group Tour Championship; she was runner-up in 2018 and tied for eighth in 2017