The days are getting shorter. And not just because it’s that time of year. While the clean, crisp air in most parts of the country now comes with the first friendly bites of fall, the competition in the closing weeks of the LPGA Tour season remains hotter than a sauna with only a few weeks left for a lot to happen.
Much attention will be paid to those players near the top of the Race to the CME Globe in the coming events, especially with many of the major Rolex LPGA awards still undecided. But this week, you should pay particular attention to the other end of the rankings – those situated from 55 to 65 in the Race to the CME Globe. For those players, the sun is setting, and time is drawing nigh. This week’s LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in California could be the difference between ending the year with a visit to Naples and a shot at $2 million in the CME Group Tour Championship, or an earlier-than-expected trip home for Thanksgiving and an unwanted extension to the off-season.
Currently inside the wire, Sophia Schubert (No. 55 in the Race to the CME Globe) hopes to parlay her runner-up finish at the Amundi Evian Championship into something even bigger. Schubert is just one year removed from being on the Epson Tour where she earned her LPGA Tour card with one win and a solid finish down the closing stretch. With those good memories from a year ago, she hopes this fall will be just as rewarding.
Stacy Lewis is also inside the current CME line, but at No. 56 in the race, the former Rolex Ranking No.1 can’t take anything for granted. Lewis has had some uncharacteristic struggles in the late summer. After opening her 2022 campaign with two top-10 finishes in her first three starts, she missed three out of four cuts in the months of September. A strong week at MEDIHEAL would go a long way toward locking up a spot in Naples.
Another player hoping to move up this week is Pornanong Phatlum, who sits at No.58 in the Race to the CME Globe. Fortunately, the 32-year-old Thai is on the other end of the momentum scale from Lewis. Pornanong has finished T19, 4th, and T16 in her last three starts after a spring where she missed five cuts in a row. One more good week should be enough to move her comfortably off the bubble.
Two players with potential to make moves this week are Pajaree Anannarukarn (No.59) and Daniela Darquea (No.62). Only 37 points separate the two and the two players between them – Albane Valenzuela at No.59 and Jenny Shin and No.60 – are not in the MEDIHEAL field, leaving the door open for either player to move into or out of the top 60.
Kelly Tan, Brittany Altomare and former Rolex Rankings No.1 Ariya Jutanugarn sit at Nos. 63, 64, and 65. All need good weeks to structure the rest of their seasons.
One final player to watch this week is defending champion Matilda Castren, currently No. 66 in the Race to the CME Globe. Yes, it’s a different golf course in a different part of California, but there’s nothing like the good memories of your first LPGA Tour win to motivate you to move from outside to in.
A win would do wonders for a lot of players this week – Frida Kinhult at No.70, Emma Talley at 76, and So Yeon Ryu at 77, just to name a few. But win or not, a solid week is important. Because the days are getting shorter, and time is running out.