Nearing the end of her best season on the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko is in a good position to leave the CME Group Tour Championship with a collection of new awards and the title of Race to the CME Globe Champion. The 25-year-old has two wins in 2022 with 11 additional top-10 finishes and leads the LPGA in several key stats including strokes gained total per round (2.440), top-10 finish percentage (62%) and scoring average (69.049). In the running for all the remaining season-ending awards and titles, Ko can’t help but think back on her previous best season on Tour
“I remember being in this room in 2015 before the event started, doing my press conference, and I said ‘If I could choose the million or the Player of the Year, I would choose the Player of the Year,’” said Ko, who received the honor in 2015 and now leads the 2022 Rolex Player of the Year standings. “I think earlier in my career -- not that I did take it for granted, but I felt like it came easier… The last few years I've gotten to realize, ‘Hey, it's not easy,’ and the level of competition on Tour is getting higher and higher. Your percentage to win is a little bit more difficult, and I think that is why (the 2022 title) would feel special, and it would be meaningful in a different way.”
Leading the Tour in Race to the CME Globe standings and the POTY standings, Ko will tee off on Thursday alongside the 2022 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Atthaya Thitikul. Ko has the best chance to win POTY this week, leading Aussie Minjee Lee by one point in the standings and Thitikul and Brooke Henderson by 20. She is also leading the race for the coveted Vare Trophy, given to the player with the season’s lowest scoring average and could very likely earn the money title if she takes home the record-breaking $2 million winner’s check on Sunday. All the accolades are secondary at this point, however, as Ko is first and foremost focused on continuing to play her best, most consistent golf at the final event of the year.
“These last couple of weeks I've been trying not to think too much about the awards and the what-ifs and what could happen because even though it's been a great year for me and something that I'm very proud of, I think this year has been some of the most consistent golf I've played throughout the year,” Ko said. “I think when I look at my nine years on Tour, I was never always steadily there from the start to the end, and I feel like I've been in that kind of position coming into this week.”
Ko has won the CME Group Tour Championship once before in 2014 and is making her tenth appearance in the event. She has only finished outside of the top 20 once in her career at Tiburon Golf Club, a T53 finish in 2019. This year, she is chasing her third consecutive top-10 finish after a T9 result in 2021 and a T5 finish in 2020.