Players are making a push into the final stretch of the LPGA Tour season beginning with the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. The trip to Rogers, Ark. marks one of just nine events remaining on the 2023 schedule, signaling a wind down to the year but is also a ramp-up to deciding who will earn the season’s top honors at the CME Group Tour Championship.
There’s no let-up, even as the year comes to a close. The schedule will continue to test players' patience, stamina and resolve while they traverse five more countries in three months, which includes the Tour’s annual fall swing through Asia. While it’s a challenging conclusion to what has already been a busy season, it’s also one of the most exciting times of the year with so much to play for.
Points, points and more points will be top of mind as players compete over the next eight weeks. These final playing opportunities give the world’s best a chance to pick up the much-needed Race to CME Globe points they need in order to have a chance to take home the biggest prize of the year at the CME Group Tour Championship. Races for Rolex Player and Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors, the Vare Trophy and the Official Money Title will all be decided at the Tiburon Golf Club in November.
But getting to the CME Group Tour Championship is a battle, too. Results in the last few events of the year can mean the difference between climbing inside or outside the top 60 in the Race to the CME Globe Point standings, which is the cut-off point for players who want to punch a ticket to the Tour Championship, where players will be vying for one of the biggest purses of the year that features a $2 million winner’s check.
The move into the season’s closing stretch begins with the 17th playing of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. Held at Pinnacle Country Club, the stop is one of just three 54-hole events on the schedule this year and features a $2.3 million purse.
Following a two-week hiatus that saw Europe retain the Solheim Cup in Spain, the LPGA Tour returns to action in Arkansas. The break gave much of the world’s top talent a chance to rest before launching into the season’s final push, but for the 24 players who competed at Finca Cortesin, the week in Rogers will be a real test of endurance in terms of coping with fatigue and jet lag. Six players from both the American and European teams – Georgia Hall, Danielle Kang, Cheyenne Knight, Leona Maguire, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Lexi Thompson – are making the trip across the pond, along with U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Stacy Lewis and her assistant captain Natalie Gulbis.
Lewis is a two-time Walmart NW Arkansas champion who hoisted the trophy in 2007 and 2014 not too far from her alma mater at the University of Arkansas. The tournament’s commitment to advancing the women’s golf program at the university has been intertwined with this championship’s history, and in keeping with that tradition, this year the tournament extended sponsor invites to Arkansas alum Brooke Matthews and current Razorback Miriam Ayora Gomez.
These up-and-coming stars will get to play alongside the world’s best, including two former Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1s – Lydia Ko, who won in Arkansas in 2016, and So Yeon Ryu, who was victorious in 2017. They’ll be joined by the current defending champion Atthaya Thitikul, who captured the second win of her rookie season last year in Arkansas after defeating Danielle Kang on the second hole of a playoff. She also went on to reach No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings following her victory.
The top players in the women’s game start their roll into the season’s final stretch this week, vying for coveted CME points, season-long awards and of course prestige. The race to the finish begins Friday in Arkansas and it is sure to be a fun one to watch.