Tiger to face new cast of rivals - COPIED

By Associated PressSeptember 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)
GREG McLAUGHLIN: As I said, we are celebrating our 10th year, and without this event, this is the largest single fund-raiser that we do for the Tiger Woods Foundation in support really of programs that we have across the country and around the world, but we are really honored to have two new sponsors really helping us build the best.
We are excited about the field and we are excited about a week of December 15th to the 21st, which we think will be great.
But I would now like to introduce representing Bank of America, who is our presenting sponsor, the California state president, Janet Lamkin.
JANET LAMKIN: Thank you so much. It's such an honor and pleasure to be here today. And on behalf of the 200,000 associates of Bank of America, I want to say how proud we are to assume the presenting sponsorship of this world-class event and enhance our partnership with the Tiger Woods Foundation.
This is a stand out organization for so many reasons, not only because of what we'll see in December, but because of the incredible work that the Tiger Woods Foundation does in our communities and an important part of our community is oriented towards the youth.
Obviously it's an interesting day in financial times these days, so many of our counterparts are really trying to and a half I gait the waters of what they are reading in the press, as are we and very proud how we have emerged some of these interesting times. But one of the things that enables us to do is to continue our involvement in the community and recently we announced a $2 billion commitment to be spent over ten years and that kind of resource will be combined with the resources of the Tiger Woods Foundation which does incredibly important work around it. It's a wonderful cause and hope you enjoy the day. Thank you.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Our next speaker is our title sponsor now, and after a really a long, long partnership with the Target Corporation, we are very excited about the possibilities of Chevron Corporation, which is a corporation located in northern California.
We began discussions with them approximately about nine to ten months or so ago, and Chevron Corporation has really, really taken a very active role and as many of you know, Chevron is extremely philanthropic, not only in the United States but around the world.
So it's exciting for us about the partnerships that we are starting to develop, not only with the golf tournament but certainly with the Foundation, not only in the United States, but certainly around the world potentially, as well.
So I would like to confirm on a relationship of five years to 200012 with Chevron Corporation as the title sponsor of this event and please welcome the general manager of for the California corporate affairs, Mr. Russell Yarrow.
RUSSELL YARROW: Thanks, Greg. Thanks for being here. I guess one thing you don't want to do is stand in front of a room between working media and Tiger Woods so I'll be very brief.
Let me just say that we are delighted to be the sponsor for the Chevron World Challenge and we expect a great performance this December. The lineup looks spectacular so we are really looking forward to the event.
But more importantly, let me echo a little bit of what Janet said. We are really honored and privileged to embark on this partnership with the Tiger Woods Foundation, which this great event supports.
The Foundation as you all know is committed to making a difference in the lives of young people and today we think that's more important than ever. I don't know how many of you have had a chance to visit the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, but if you do, you really get a chance to see the kind of work that's being done and how important it is. I recommend it to all of you. What they do with kids, enriching kids in their education with cutting edge and world-class science is and technology really helps these kids out a lot.
We have a lot of education this year, working with USC, Tiger's alma mater, Stanford, and some other universities, but we are excited about the unique needs of the Tiger Woods Foundation is fulfilling reaching out to kids who really need it most and at a time of their lives where they can really make a difference. That's really important.
And let me just end by saying at Chevron, we like to say that the most important energy is human energy, and we define human energy as the power to innovate, the power to solve problems and the power to make dreams become reality and what we see in the work of Tiger Woods Foundation is doing the same sort of things, and reaching out and unlocking some of that human energy.
So thank you all, and we look forward to a great tournament.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Thank you. Just to give you a couple little quick facts about the event: First, again, it will be $5.75 million. I indicated December 15-21. First place is $1.35 million with $170,000 going to 16th place.
We feel that we have an excellent field again this year in our 10th year. Happy to have Vijay Singh, the recent FedExCup champion, and also Camilo Villegas. We are really, really excited to have southern California native Anthony Kim. He won the AT&T National in Washington, D.C. this summer and also the Wachovia Championship, and really has been playing great. We have I think a total of seven Ryder Cup players, including Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard, Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker. We have the 2009 Presidents Cup Captain, which will be played in northern California next fall, Fred Couples, and Ryder Cup players Paul Casey, Hunter Mahan and Boo Weekley.
So with that, we have really what we think is a tremendous field. Our defending champion will be on hand for the week in a host role, and he at least at this point will not be playing unfortunately, but with that, we're happy to have him certainly on hand for the week.
And with that, I think we are about to bring him on and begin our news conference and introduce Tiger Woods.
TIGER WOODS: Hey, Greg. Well, it great to be here. I'm really looking forward to just a minute another great week with Chevron and Bank of America, great partners. And then obviously Sherwood, nine years there now, it's been absolutely incredible.
Unfortunately I can't play that incredible golf course. I can only cheer from the sidelines in a cart; getting ready for the Senior Tour. (Laughing).
So it will be a different kind of week for me, a lot of eating, a lot of sitting in there and grubbing; it looks like with a Greg does all week, so it will be perfect.
Q. After the surgery early on was there any hope of possibly being ready to play here? And you've had success here and that's gone back to the Foundation; are you asking Freddie or somebody else to pitch in for you with their possible winnings and take your place?
TIGER WOODS: Okay. I guess first off -- I'll answer the second part of your question. It's up to the players. We're just very thankful that they are even coming and playing and participating in our event and supporting our cause. And if they care to do anything beyond that, it's just a bonus.
It's just great to have their presence there, because obviously without these great champions playing the tournament, we wouldn't be able to donate the money that we are able to do to the local charities and to what we are trying to do with the Tiger Woods Foundation.
As far as the time line of my surgery, after I had it done, basically a week after the U.S. Open, the healing process for an ACL is six months, and you have to, no matter how much you try and do, you really can't speed up that process. That puts me into January. And unfortunately, I can't rotate; I can't practice on that leg until then. That's just a natural healing process of any ACL, for the graft to take.
And I believe the stat is after six months, the ACL is 85 percent in strength and then over the next year and a half, it will gain it's 100 percent strength. So it's basically a two-year process. That's one reason why you see a lot of football players when they get injured, they don't really have their great years for two years out. Luckily I don't play football.
Q. Talk a little about the Foundation and how much is made possible because of the tournament for the Foundation, and did you ever think it would get to this point?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't have foreseen it happening this fast. I would never have foreseen us growing to where we are at right now; to having a golf tournament there in southern California to having a PGA Tour event to having a Learning Center and now growing our Foundation internationally.
I would never have seen it happening as fast as it has happened. We have been very fortunate to have had great partners over the years that have helped us and supported our vision.
You know, I keep telling everyone; we are just getting started. Now we are entering into the phase that I'm excited about and growing internationally. I'm excited about us going into Thailand where my mom is from; we are working on that right now, and then hopefully future countries along the way. But we still have a lot to do here in America, and I'm never going to lose sight of that.
Q. The Skins Game sort of paved the way for the success of your tournament and many like them; can you talk about the success of the Skins Game and you're talking about your tournament and your tournament growing internationally, and other tournaments such as your also growing.
TIGER WOODS: I wasn't speaking of the tournament growing internationally. It may be growing internationally as far as coverage. But I was referring to what we are trying to do with the Foundation; what we did in southern California; what we've done in the United States with helping kids and growing that on international basis.
Now as far as the Skins Game, certainly without what they have done in the second part of the season after our regular TOUR season had ended, that basically paved the way for a lot of different events, and certainly we are one of them.
You look at the second part of the season, if it wasn't for what the Skins Game had done, I don't think that a lot of tournaments besides ours would have had the success they have had over the years.
Q. We obviously miss you but when you see this excitement, just with the completion of The Ryder Cup and the FedExCup, all of these amazing, youthful athletes in golf; we miss you, but are you biting at the bit to get back?
TIGER WOODS: In a sense yes and no, because as of right now, I couldn't beat anyone right now. I can't swing a club yet. So there's really no sense in me getting too excited and too fired up and going out there and embarrassing myself right now.
As far as right now maybe I could take them on in a putt-putt contest or something, that's about all I can do. Boy, that windmill is really challenging. That clown's mouth is really tough; got to watch out for that.
As far as getting back next year, I'm really focused on trying to get my body healthy for next year so that I can compete at a high level and get to where I can compete down the stretch in events again. I miss getting out there and seeing the guys. A lot of the guys that I've known over the years are out there playing and they are texting me, having a good time, and I miss seeing them. It is like a big fraternity out there. That's what people don't realize. I've been out there long enough now to develop so many different friendships; I miss seeing the guys, but I also miss competing, as well.
Q. When you won the U.S. Open you said it was one of the most memorable wins of your career. Having the time off now has that given you time to reflect on the success you've had; obviously three majors in 2000, that was one much best runs, but how do you compare the run this year, ending at the U.S. Open, to other runs in your career?
TIGER WOODS: I think I played better in this stretch than I have at any time in my career. I may have won more major championships but I certainly have never have been in contention in as many events or won as many events in a row. I had a pretty good run; what, nine out of ten events or nine out of 11 events, something like that. That's not too bad.
Q. Can you talk about the players who received an exemption for the World Challenge, and also I know Mark O'Meara took some time last winter with Anthony Kim to maybe give some -- talk a little about Anthony, as well.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, basically we have Boo, Hunter, Freddie and Paul, and we are looking forward to having those guys, great personalities but also with a lot of game.
I think what Mark did last year for AK was incredible because he was kind of going down the wrong path and he was taking his talents for granted and he wasn't working as hard as he needed to have, I think, and as most people needed him to do. And Mark sat him down. Mark's watched me grow up. He's watched me mature over the years, and I wouldn't have ever had the success I've had early on in my career without his help.
AK should look at what Mark has to say, there's no doubt about that. Mark was like and still is like a big brother to me, and AK is very lucky that Mark opened up his arms and brought him in and gave him some guidance. It's just amazing how much talent this kid has, and if he worked at it, what he could be.
Q. How difficult was it watching The Ryder Cup and noting able to play there and the FedExCup, not being able to defend, especially the tournaments you won?
TIGER WOODS: As far as The Ryder Cup is concerned, it was frustrating, because I couldn't -- the guys, I miss being on the team. I miss being in that team room, being out there and competing with the boys and seeing what we've got.
I received a great text from Jim after their event was over Sunday night. They were celebrating and Jim sent me just a great text saying that, I wish you were here because you've gone through the battles and you've gone through the big defeats and it would have been nice to have you here to be a part of this. Because it had been a while since I had been part of a winning Ryder Cup Team. Presidents Cup team, yes, but Ryder Cup Team, not since '99.
As far as the FedExCup, yeah, I missed the second half of the season. I missed the two major championships. I missed the entire Playoffs. It was frustrating in a sense because I was having a pretty good year to that point until when I decided to shut it down for the rest of the year. It would have been nice to see what I could have done for the rest of the year.
Q. Getting back to your Foundation a bit, I had an opportunity to tour the Foundation one time and I walked into one of the classes of fifth grade kids and they were tearing apart a computer and rebuilding it, and they had huge smiles on their faces, and I walked away just blown away by what they were doing. I know as excited as they are to learn, they seem more excited about learning than playing golf; as you sit on the sidelines a little bit in the world of golf and have gotten a chance maybe to get a little bit more into what the Foundation is doing, how exciting is that for you to see what you're doing at that level for these kids?
TIGER WOODS: We made a transition even when my father was alive. I told Dad that I didn't want this to be necessarily a golf foundation. I wanted it to be one based upon education.
We decided to create the Foundation based upon my childhood and my childhood was not golf. Golf was a part of my life, but education was No. 1. It was my No. 1 priority. If I didn't have any homework done or get good grades, I wasn't allowed to go out and play and practice. So my whole upbringing was about education, and getting my education, and if I didn't have that as my Foundation, I don't think I would have gotten into Stanford.
I wanted the Foundation to reflect my upbringing, and that's one of the reasons why we made that shift from doing junior golf clinics all across the country to building a Learning Center and spearheading what my father had done off his book. That's something I found near and dear to my heart, and what you saw at the Learning Center with that fifth grade class is exactly what I hoped you'd see. I want them to grow on an educational basis rather than just go out and hitting high draws and high fades.
Yes, that is fun and if that's what they choose to do, so be it. But I want them to enter lives with all the tools that they need to have to succeed, and that comes from the classroom.
Q. Has your time away given you more time to focus on your two courses for your design firm and has it given you more time to think about future projects or anything like that?
TIGER WOODS: It has. I've had so much fun redoing routings and walking the sites, working on the two projects has been a blast. I've had countless hours here in the office working things, and to me, that's been just absolutely incredible. I look forward to doing more of that down the road.
I'm not going to be doing a bunch of different golf courses. It's going to be a small collection of golf courses. I don't have a whole lot of time to do a massive number of courses; nor do I want to. I want to work with great partners to create great golf courses on hopefully absolutely fantastic properties, and so far, that's been the case.
Q. You mentioned The Cliffs Course in North Carolina, that's going to be a course that's going to be walker friendly. Do you think that's something that you're going to try to strive for in other designs in the future?
TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. No doubt about it. No doubt about it. We are always going to try to provide and have a walking environment.
A lot of it is predicated obviously on the site that we have to work with, but so far, the two sites I've had, we've been able to accomplish that.
Q. Obviously and you Elin are expecting your second child coming up here in the winter. Can you talk about fatherhood and how much that's changed your perspective on things and what it's meant; I know you talked about the downtime and the positives, but just a little bit about fatherhood and what you've learned from your dad that maybe you put into practice with your own kid?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's been hard to describe. It's been so cool to see her grow and develop and learn certain words and certain things. It's been just an absolute blast. To have her in my life has been the greatest thing ever. I'd always heard of what parents have always said about having kids in their life, how it changes your life and makes life so much better. Yeah, you hear that when you don't have that and you say, okay, yeah, great, whatever.
But until you get a chance to experience it, you just really can't describe it. She changed my life and it's been a great experience ever.
GREG McLAUGHLIN: Well, Tiger, we are going to have lunch right now. We thank you very much.

Monday Scramble: For money and love

By Ryan LavnerNovember 20, 2017, 3:00 pm

Lexi Thompson falters, Jon Rahm impresses, Justin Rose stuns, Austin Cook breaks through and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble:

It’ll be a long two months for Lexi Thompson.

She’ll have plenty to think about this offseason after a strong 2017 season that could have been spectacular.

She won twice, led the LPGA in scoring average and took home the $1 million first-place prize … but she also finished second six times – none more excruciating than the careless spotting in the first major of the year and the 2-foot miss in the season finale – and dealt with the crushing off-course distraction of her mother, Judy, battling cancer.

Thompson said all the right things after the CME Group Tour Championship, that those types of short misses happen in golf, that she’s overcome adversity before.

“It didn’t stop me,” she said, “and this won’t either.”

But at 22, she has already accumulated an incredible amount of scar tissue, especially for a player with world-beater talent.

What will 2018 bring? For Lexi’s sake, hopefully it’s more wins, not heartbreak. 

1. The Thompson miss was plenty awkward. So was the end to the LPGA season.

In a fitting result for a year in which no dominant player emerged, So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park shared the Player of the Year award, after both players finished with 162 points. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1966.

Can’t there be some way to break the tie? Low scoring average? Best finishes in the majors? A chip-off content? Rock-paper-scissors?

2. Some of the other awards ...

Vare Trophy: Thompson, who finished the year with a 69.114 average. Maybe the players this year were just really good, but it’s a bit of a head-scratcher than 12 players finished with a sub-70 average, besting the previous best total of, gulp, five. Easier setups?

Money title: Park, with $2.336 in earnings.

No. 1 ranking: Shanshan Feng, though Thompson had a chance to take over the top spot. Alas, that final green … 

3. Oh, and there was also the tournament winner: Ariya Jutanugarn, who capped a bizarre year with a satisfying title.

Perhaps only Thompson boasts as much talent as Jutanugarn, and yet the Thai star showed her vulnerability this year. After reaching No. 1 in the world, she struggled through a shoulder injury and then missed five cuts and withdrew from another event in a seven-start span.

Here’s hoping she learned how to deal with that spotlight, because she’s going to be challenging for the No. 1 ranking for a while.

4. Of course, we wrote that about Lydia Ko, too, and she just wrapped up her first winless season on tour since she was 15.

She had 11 top-10s, including three runners-up, but failing to earn a victory was a massive disappointment for a player who was No. 1 in the world for 85 weeks. Perhaps next year she’ll get back on track, but you never know – she changed swings, coaches, equipment and caddies. That's a lot of turnover.

5. So much for that “controversial” Rookie of the Year award.

Jon Rahm, named Europe’s top newcomer despite playing only four regular-season events, left little doubt about who was the breakout star of the year with a comeback victory at the DP World Tour Championship.

Though it wasn’t enough to claim the Race to Dubai title – he finished third – it should serve as a warning to the rest of the European Tour that the 23-year-old Rahm be the man to beat for the next, oh, decade or so.

6. Ranked fourth in the world, particularly impressive because he hasn’t yet hit the minimum divisor in the rankings, Rahm wrapped up a season in which he won in California, Ireland and Dubai.

Just imagine how good he’ll be when he’s not seeing all of these courses for the first time. 

7. The biggest stunner on the final day was the play of Justin Rose, who entered the final round with a one-shot lead.

He seemed to be on cruise control, going out in 4 under, but he encountered all sorts of trouble on the back nine, making three bogeys a variety of ways – wayward drives, flared approaches into the water and missed shorties.

Not only did it cost him the DP World Tour Championship title, but it allowed Tommy Fleetwood – even with a closing 74 – to take the end-of-season Race to Dubai title.

8. Austin Cook is now a PGA Tour winner – and what a circuitous journey it has been.

After turning pro in 2014, he played the mini-tours, racking up five top-10s in nine starts on the Adams Tour. A year later, with a chance to earn his Web.com card, he finished bogey-bogey-quad-double. And then last year, Hurricane Matthew forced officials to cancel the Web.com Tour Championship. That left Cook without his card – by $425.

He made it to the big leagues this fall, after finishing 20th on the money list, and then won in just his 14th career Tour start.  

“I’ve been close on the Web a couple times but haven’t been able to get the job done, and to be able to do it on the biggest stage in the world, it definitely boosts my confidence and lets me know that I can play with these guys,” he said. 

9. Sam Horsfield, who in 2016 was the NCAA Freshman of the Year, routed the field at European Tour Q-School to earn his card for next year. He shot 27 under (!) during the five-round event to win by eight.

Expectations have been high for the 21-year-old ever since he received a public endorsement from Ian Poulter. His mentor chimed in again after Horsfield got his card:

Another great story to come out of Q-School was Jigger Thomson, who is interesting not just because of his incredible height – he’s 6-foot-9 – but his back story, after battling leukemia as a kid.

10. A limited fall schedule hasn’t cost Brooks Koepka any of his stellar form.

The U.S. Open champion defended his title at the Dunlop Phoenix, shooting 20 under par – one off his own scoring mark – and winning by a record nine shots. The margin of victory was one shot better than Tiger Woods’ romp there in 2004.

This was only Koepka’s second start since the Tour Championship (tied for second at the WGC-HSBC Champions).

Xander Schauffele tied for second while Hideki Matsuyama finished fifth. This is the time last year, remember, in which the Japanese star was the hottest player in the world, taking four titles in six starts, but he admitted of going up against Koepka right now: “I feel there’s a huge gap between us.” 

Um, has this ever happened before?

I.K. Kim had a WILD third round at the CME Tour Championship, making only seven pars and recording everything from a 1 to a 7 en route to a ho-hum 71. 

This week's award winners ... 

Back Under the Knife: Davis Love III. Set to undergo replacement surgery on his left hip, Love is looking at another extended layoff, likely about four months.  

Underrated Fall Performances: J.J. Spaun and Brian Harman. Spaun, who held the 54-hole lead at the Shriners, earned his first runner-up finish at the RSM, his third consecutive top-15. Harman, who won the Wells Fargo in May, had three top-8s. 

Fill-In Duty: Cameron McCormick. Jordan Spieth’s swing coach will be on the bag for Spieth this week in Australia with his regular caddie, Michael Greller, at home with his wife and new baby.  

Get Well Soon: Luke Donald. He withdrew from the RSM because of chest pain. He spent the night in the hospital, undergoing seven hours of tests, but was given the all-clear sign. 

All the Best: Webb Simpson. Wishing the best to the Simpson family, after Webb chose to WD from Sea Island after rounds of 67-68 so he could spend time with his father, Sam, who, Simpson tweeted is “sick and living his last days.” 

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Charles Howell III. Red-hot to open the season, with three consecutive top-10s, Howell missed the cut at Sea Island where he was 7-for-7 with three top-10s and a tie for 13th. Sigh. 

Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

“I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

“Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”