NAPLES, Fla. – LPGA commissioner Mike Whan couldn’t hand out the Rolex Player of the Year Award during Friday night’s Rolex dinner, but most of the year’s other big honors were bestowed.
Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko remain locked in a battle for Player of the Year at the CME Group Tour Championship this weekend, with Ko needing to win the event to claim the award.
The awards presented Thursday night were:
The William & Mousie Powell Award: LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb won as the player who “best exemplifies the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” Webb’s contributions to the tour go beyond her 41 LPGA titles and seven major championships. She has served the tour as a player director on the LPGA Board of Directors, helped fund the Founders Film and tutored Australian amateurs as part of her Karrie Webb Series. She won the award by a vote of LPGA players.
The Heather Farr Perseverance Award: Ariya Jutanugarn won for persevering through shoulder surgery in the summer of 2013 that sidelined her for eight months, and for persevering through the struggles that followed, including 10 consecutive missed cuts last year.
Jutanugarn has rebounded to win a tour-best five LPGA titles this year, including her first major championship, the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She won by a vote of LPGA players.
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award: In Gee Chun, winner of the Evian Championship, won the points-based award in a runaway.
The Ellen Griffin Rolex Award: Pia Nilsson, who co-founded Vision54 with Lynn Marriott, won an award designed to “recognize an individual who has made a major contribution to teaching golf and who demonstrates Griffin’s spirit, love and dedication.”
Nilsson’s pupils have included Annika Sorenstam, Suzann Pettersen, Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi and Brittany Lincicome. Her pupils today include Jutanugarn. Nilsson played the LPGA from 1983 to ’87 and was captain of the European Solheim Cup team in 1998.
The Commissioner’s Award: ShopRite Supermarkets and Wakefern Food senior vice president Jeff Reagan accepted the award. The LPGA’s ShopRite Classic has raised more than $30 million for charities over the last 25 years.