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

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

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."