Ko, Park battle for millions, awards at LPGA finale

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2015, 4:35 pm

Lydia Ko vs. Inbee Park. 

They just might win all the big prizes at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla.

It seems right that so many of the important awards and honors that will be handed out this week come down to these two, because their shadows have fallen hard over the season.

With her victory Sunday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Park claimed her fifth LPGA title of the year, equaling Ko for most on tour. Park’s victories include two majors, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Ko’s includes her first major victory, the Evian Championship, where she closed with a final-round 63, maybe the greatest round ever played in a women’s major.

Ko and Park aren’t just 1-2 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. They’re 1-2 in every statistical category or competition that really matters to LPGA pros with Ko in front of Park in all of those except scoring.

With everything that’s at stake for these two this week, including the $1 million Race to the CME Globe jackpot, you could argue there’s more pressure on them than there was in any major this year.

There are also significant LPGA Hall of Fame ramifications in play.

While Park brings winning momentum to Tiburon Golf Club, Ko brings her own good vibes after taking off last week to gain some extra rest for the season finale. Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship last year and also claimed the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.

Here’s an overview of what’s at stake in Naples:

Rolex Player of the Year Award – The LPGA doesn’t decide its Player of the Year by a vote among tour membership the way the PGA Tour does. The LPGA’s award is decided in a points-based competition.

Ko, 18, will be looking to make more history this week as she bids to become the youngest LPGA Player of the Year. She became the youngest Rolex world No. 1 back in February and the youngest woman to win a major in September at Evian.

Ko will be in the driver’s seat at Tiburon as she leads Park by three points in the Rolex Player of the Year race. A victory is worth 30 points with second place worth 12 points, third worth nine and points awarded down to a single point for 10th place.

Park, 27, is seeking to win her second POY award. She also claimed it in 2013, when she won the first three majors of the year. Park has to finish at least eighth this week to have a shot at the award. If she finishes eighth and Ko doesn’t record a top-10 finish, they’ll tie for the POY award.

Vare Trophy – With back-to-back birdies to close out a 64 in her victory Sunday in Mexico City, Park moved ahead of Ko with the LPGA’s best scoring average. With a 69.43 scoring average, Park is .016 points ahead of Ko.

Ko is seeking to become the youngest winner of the Vare Trophy while Park is seeking to win the award for the second time in her career. Park won her first in 2012.

Money title – Ko tops the money list with $2,758,417 in earnings. Park is second with $2,570,096. The first-place check Sunday is $500,000. Park won the money title in 2012 and ’13.

Race to the CME Globe – The $1 million jackpot goes to the winner of the season-long points race.

Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship last year and also claimed the CME Globe jackpot, walking away with $1.5 million, the biggest single payday in the history of women’s golf.

Only the top nine point earners coming into the CME Group Tour Championship have a shot at the $1 million jackpot. The points are being re-set for this week.

Here’s the top nine in points in the re-set:

1. Lydia Ko: 5,000
2. Inbee Park: 4,500
3. Stacy Lewis: 4,000
4. Sei Young Kim: 3,600
5. Lexi Thompson: 3,200
6. So Yeon Ryu: 2,800
7. Amy Yang: 2,400
8. Anna Nordqvist: 2,000
9. Shanshan Feng: 1,600

By virtue of ranking among the top three in points, Ko, Park and Lewis have guaranteed that they will win the $1 million jackpot if they win the CME Group Tour Championship.

A victory in Naples is worth 3,500 CME points, second place is worth 2,400 points, third is worth 2,200 points, fourth is worth 1,800 points ... with points awarded down to 10 for finishing 72nd.

Yang, Nordqvist and Feng must win the CME Group Tour Championship to have a shot at the jackpot. If Feng wins the tournament, she needs Ko to finish 55th or worse to claim the jackpot, Park to finish 10th or worse, Lewis to finish 7th or worse and on like that for the eight players ahead of her in the points standings.

Hall of Fame – Park’s victory Sunday earned her another LPGA Hall of Fame point, moving her to 26 HOF points, one short of qualifying for induction.

Park doesn’t even have to win this week to reach the 27-point requirement. She has three ways to get the point she needs. A victory is worth one point, the Rolex Player of the Year Award is worth one point and the Vare Trophy is worth one point.

If Park reaches 27 this week, she will still have some work to do to meet all the LPGA Hall of Fame criteria. She needs to be an active member of the LPGA for 10 full seasons to be eligible for induction. This is her ninth full season.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.