The biggest winner’s check in the history of women’s golf belongs to Lydia Ko after her wire-to-wire victory at the 2022 season-finale CME Group Tour Championship. Ko, who is now a 19-time LPGA champion, shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday to finish at -17 overall and two strokes ahead of third-round co-leader Leona Maguire. With her win, the Kiwi also clinched the 2022 Player of the Year award for the second time in her career and the Vare Trophy for the second consecutive season.
“To be the Player of the Year and to win the Vare Trophy again and to win the CME Group Tour Championship, it's a dream come true. To be able to do it in front of family and my team, you know, it's a very special one,” said Ko, who is also now only two points shy of the necessary 27 for induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame. “As much as I'm excited that I have won, I'm also excited for some time off and get ready to become a bride soon.”
It took just one round for Ko to set herself apart as she led from day one, managing the gusty conditions that plagued the field throughout the week better than anyone. It looked like the Kiwi could easily run away with it after shooting 65-66 in the first two days, until Maguire made the most of Moving Day with a 9-under 63, the best score of the week.
Tied at the top heading into the final day, Ko’s bogey on No. 1 on Sunday gave Maguire an early lead, but the Kiwi made up for it with two birdies on the front while the Irishwoman kept it level. With Ko just one stroke ahead at the turn, both players made pars until they ran into trouble on the par-5 14th, each making bogey after hitting their second shots into the water and taking drops. Ko made two final birdies on 16 and 17 to edge out Maguire for her third title of the season.
“I think internally I was excited, but I tried to stay calm. Even down to the last hole, I just wanted to play my golf and make sure that it gets handled in my hands and not, like, somebody else's,” said Ko.
Anna Nordqvist landed herself a solo third finish after a 5-under 67 to close out her 11th appearance in the Tour’s season finale. After making just one birdie on No. 7 on the front nine, the Swede posted six birdies, one par and two bogeys in her season-closing nine holes to get best result on Tour since her win at the 2021 AIG Women’s Open.
“I'm not going to lie, this year has been a hard year on the greens. I feel like ball striking-wise it's probably been the most consistent year I've had in my career. But, the last couple of weeks wasn't really going a good direction,” said Nordqvist. “So my husband helped me a little bit earlier in the week and just focusing on speed. I think it slowed down the greens a little bit today because of the wind. I left myself a little bit short on a few of those, but I feel like I just put myself in good positions into the greens, so I had some good looks.”
Georgia Hall’s Sunday 67 was enough to close out the CME Group Tour Championship in a tie for fourth with fellow major champion, Jeongeun Lee6. LPGA Tour winner Pajaree Anannarukarn finished with a 2-under 70 in the final round to reach double digits at -10 overall, while Hyo Joo Kim, Brooke Henderson and Gemma Dryburgh each finished in a tie for seventh at -9, while Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda tied for 10th at -8 along with the reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Atthaya Thitikul and Tour winner Celine Boutier. Defending champion Jin Young Ko finished in a tie for 33rd at -1, after carding rounds of 72-75-69-71 throughout the final week of the season.