Though the end of the season is in sight, there’s a lot left to play for at the CME Group Tour Championship. In addition to taking home the $2 million winner’s check and the title of Race to CME Globe Champion, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, Vare Trophy and Money Title are still up for grabs and tightly contested by the top of the field.
At the top of the Race to CME Globe entering this week, Ko is also leading the Rolex Player of the Year standings. With four players in the running the award will not be decided until the final putt drops on Sunday. Mathematically, Ko has the best chance to win though she holds just a one-point lead over Minjee Lee. Ko also leads the tour in scoring average, which puts her at the top of the list for the Vare Trophy. Shooting a 69.049 average, she leads Atthaya Thitikul by 0.386. Thitikul would need a 60.176 scoring average at the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake Ko for the honor.
An outright win would give Ko both awards, but one last top 10 finish could just keep her ahead of the competition as well. Though she didn’t card her best finish at the Pelican Women’s Championship – T26 at 3-under par – Ko has impressed in the latter half of the season. The 25-year-old has 10 top 10s in her last 13 starts, nine of which were top five results including her win at the BMW Ladies Championship.
Though she is just 19 years old, Thitikul has already made quite a name for herself on the LPGA Tour. In her rookie season, Thitikul has won twice – the JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G – and became just the second player from Thailand and the second rookie to become No. 1 on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. She held the title for two weeks before Nelly Korda reclaimed the spot with her win at the Pelican Women’s Championship. In addition to her two wins, Thitikul has a whopping 13 top 10s. She has finished in the top 10 in her last six starts including her recent win in Arkansas.
Unsurprisingly, Thitikul was able to clinch the Lousie Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award and is in the running for all the end-of-season accolades still available. With 130 points in the Rolex Player of the Year standings, Thitikul is tied for third with Brooke Henderson and just 20 points behind Ko. Thitikul could lock up player of the year with a win this weekend and become the second player to win both player and rookie of the year since Sung Hyun Park did so in 2017.
The eight-time LPGA winner has had the best season of her career in 2022. Lee caught fire as summer began, earning two wins at the Cognizant Founders Cup and the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica in a four-week span. This is Lee’s first multi-win season since 2016 and, with $3,759,835 in official money, her most lucrative season ever. Lee leads the money list by $1.1 million. And while there are eight people with a mathematical chance of taking home the Money Title, they would need to win the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake the Australian. Entering the week, Lee clinched the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and the corresponding $1 million bonus.
Lee is also just one point out of the lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race. Though an outright win would be the cleanest way to take home the title, Lee just needs to finish tenth or better this weekend to have a chance. Unfortunately, Lee takes little momentum with her into the final week of competition. In her last five starts, Lee has missed two cuts and hasn't been able to break into the top 20.
How to Watch
The CME Group Tour Championship will be televised for all four rounds. Fans can watch rounds one and two live on the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. ET. The third round will be televised from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday ET. The final round will be live on NBC from 1 to 4 p.m. ET.
Rounds one through three can be streamed live from 2-5 p.m. ET and Sunday’s competition will be streamed live from 1 to 4 p.m. ET on golfchannel.com NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.