Some of the LPGA’s most important season-long awards still hang in the balance with Thursday’s start of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
What happens in Mexico City this week sets the stage for potentially dramatic battles for the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Race to the CME Globe and the official money title at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship next week in Naples, Fla.
While the competition for Player of the Year and the money title are down to Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park, the Race to the CME Globe is more wide open, with a points reset before the CME Group Tour Championship setting up a nine-player battle for the season-long competition’s $1 million jackpot.
Lydia Ko has already locked up the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award based on her points advantage.
Rolex Player of the Year
Lewis and Park are the only players who can win the award, but it’s a tight battle.
Lewis is 12 points ahead of Park in the POY points race as she seeks to win the award for the second time in her career. Lewis won the award in 2012 and Park won it in 2013.
There are 30 points available to this week’s winner, 12 points for second place and nine for third with points awarded down to a single point for 10th place. The same POY points are up for grabs at the Tour Championship.
The Vare Trophy
Barring a collapse in the next two weeks, Lewis will take home the Vare Trophy for low scoring average for the second consecutive year. Lewis enters this week with a 69.34 scoring average to Park’s 69.58 and Michelle Wie’s 69.71. If Lewis shoots even par over the final two events of the season, Park would need to finish with a total of about 24 under par over those same to win the Vare Trophy.
Race to the CME Globe
Lewis and Park are 1-2 in the Race to the CME Globe points standings and are guaranteed to finish that way going to the CME Group Tour Championship. That’s notable because the top three in points are guaranteed that they will win the season-long race’s $1 million jackpot if they win the Tour Championship. Lydia Ko is third in points but could be challenged for the final spot at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational this weekend. Wie must win while Ko finishes fifth or worse for Wie to move ahead of Ko and into the top three.
Only the top nine in points will go to the Tour Championship with a chance to win the CME Race to the Globe’s $1 million jackpot. Karrie Webb holds down the ninth spot, but she and No. 8 Chella Choi aren’t playing this week. That opens the door for four players in this week’s field to crack the top nine: Azahara Munoz, Cristie Kerr, Lexi Thompson and Suzann Pettersen.
The Race to the CME Globe points standings will be reset for the Tour Championship.
Here are the top 16 in standings:
1. Stacy Lewis 4,823
2. Inbee Park 3,912
3. Lydia Ko 3,313
4. Michelle Wie 2,939
5. So Yeon Ryu 2,526
6. Anna Nordqvist 2,455
7. Shanshan Feng 2,353
8. Chella Choi 2,299
9. Karrie Webb 2,281
10. Azahara Munoz 2,154
11. Mirim Lee 2,068*
12. Cristie Kerr 1,957
13. Lexi Thompson 1,949
14. Suzann Pettersen 1,939
15. Jessica Korda 1,871*
16. Na Yeon Choi 1,808*
+ A victory this week is worth 500 points, second place worth 300, third 190 with points awarded through the top 20 finishes.
* Mirim Lee, Jessica Korda and Na Yeon Choi are eliminated from any chance at the top nine as they aren’t playing this week.
LPGA Money List
The battle for the 2014 money title is down to Lewis and Park.
Lewis tops the money list with $2,492,483 in earnings. Park is second with $ 2,134,415 in winnings.
Lewis is seeking to win the LPGA money title for the first time. Park has won it the last two years.
With the winner’s check worth $150,000 at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational this week and $500,000 at the CME Group Tour Championship next week, a lot can happen between these two over the final two weeks.