Awards season: Who will win LPGA hardware?

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2017, 8:44 pm

Important prizes hang in the balance with the LPGA’s season in its home stretch.

This week’s Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship is the first of five events that will test the finishing kicks of the world’s best women.

Rolex world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu and No. 2 Sung Hyun Park will continue their tight battle for the top world ranking in Taiwan while also jockeying for position to claim other coveted awards and honors. No. 3 Lexi Thompson isn’t in this week’s field.

Ryu’s reign as world No. 1 extends to 17 consecutive weeks, but Park is just .24 points behind her in average world ranking points.

The season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will decide who wins the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and likely a lot of other coveted awards.

Park is best positioned to try to sweep all the major awards left to be won. Here’s a look at how those award races are playing out:


Rolex Player of the Year

Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA’s POY isn’t decided by a player vote. If it were, this year’s race would be a tough choice.

The LPGA decides this award in a points-based race, and here are the standings:

1. So Yeon Ryu, 153
2. Lexi Thompson, 147
3. Sung Hyun Park, 142
4. In-Kyung Kim, 124
5. Anna Nordqvist, 114

There are 30 points awarded to the winner in regular tour events, including the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, with 12 for second place, nine for third and on down to a single point for 10th place.

Ryu and Park are each committed to playing in four of the final five events. So far, Thompson is listed on the published field lists of just two of them.

Here’s a summary of the seasons for these top five players:

Ryu – Two victories, including a major (ANA Inspiration, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship), 11 top-10 finishes, six top-five finishes. Leads in Rolex Player of the Year points.

Thompson – Two victories (Kingsmill Championship, Indy Women in Tech Championship), nine top-10 finishes, eight top-five finishes. Thompson was runner up five times, three of them playoff losses. Leads Race to the CME Globe standings.

Park – Two victories, one of them a major (U.S. Women’s Open, Canadian Pacific Women’s Open), eight top-10 finishes, seven top-five finishes. Leads the money-winning list and leads the tour in low scoring average.

Kim –Three victories, one of them a major (Shoprite Classic, Marathon Classic, Ricoh Women’s British Open), five top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes.

Nordqvist – Two victories, one of them a major (Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Evian Championship), five top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes.



Vare Trophy

Park overtook Thompson at last weekend’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as the leader in tour scoring average.

1. Sung Hyun Park, 69.014
2. Lexi Thompson, 69.125
3. In Gee Chun, 69.366
4. Stacy Lewis, 69.545
5. So Yeon Ryu, 69.657


Money-winning title

Park topped the $2 million earnings mark this season with her second-place finish at the KEB Hana Bank Championship on Sunday.

1. Sung Hyun Park, $2,092,623
2. So Yeon Ryu, $1,829,596
3. Lexi Thompson, $1,681,686
4. Brooke Henderson, $1,399,905
5. Anna Nordqvist, $1,192,428


Race to the CME Globe

The top 12 in points going to Naples in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will have a shot at the $1 million jackpot in the season-long points race. Anyone among the top five is guaranteed to win the big payday with a victory in Naples.

A victory is worth 500 points, with second place earning 300, third earning 190, with points awarded among the top 70 or top 40, depending if there’s a cut in the event.

1. Lexi Thompson, 3,266
2. Sung Hyun Park, 2,919
3. So Yeon Ryu, 2,776
4. Brooke Henderson, 2,631
5. In Gee Chun, 2,475
6. Ariya Jutanugarn, 2,242
7. Moriya Jutanugarn, 2,071
8. Stacy Lewis, 2,045
9. In-Kyung Kim, 2,031
10. Anna Nordqvist, 2,024
11. Cristie Kerr, 1,998
12. Sei Young Kim, 1,890
13. Minjee Lee, 1,789
14. Lydia Ko, 1,707
15. Amy Yang, 1,683


Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year

Park is in position to join Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.

Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year points-based award. There is 150 points awarded for a first-place finish, and no rookie can catch Park, even by winning every remaining event.

1. Sung Hyun Park, 1,413
2. Angel Yin, 615
3. Nelly Korda, 422

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."