Parity reigns as LPGA gears for finale

By Randall MellNovember 15, 2017, 9:11 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko won five times around the world last year.

So did Ariya Jutanugarn.

They arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship last year looking poised to duel for the world No. 1 ranking, major championships and Player of the Year awards over the next decade, but their unexpected stumbles opened the door to a new order of things.

Blew it wide open. 

Parity’s the new order coming into this year’s season finale.

The year opened with 15 different winners, something the tour hadn’t seen in 26 years.

Five different players won major championships.

And five different players reigned as Rolex world No. 1, the most in a single season since the rankings were created a dozen years ago.

It begs questions.

Is a tour better with a cluster of stars?

Or with one dominant star?

“That’s a tough question,” said So Yeon Ryu, who reigned at No. 1 for 19 weeks this year. “It’s really great to see a lot of players achieve their dream, but at the same time, we might need a rock star.”

There are a half dozen or more players eager to step into that role.

“I want to be a rock star,” Ryu said.

The CME Group Tour Championship offers a nice launching pad for that kind of ambition.

With so many important awards up for grabs this week, somebody could walk away with so much hardware it will look as if they dominated the entire year.

Sung Hyun Park is in position to sweep every major award available this week and also seize back the world No. 1 ranking. She could join Nancy Lopez as the only players in the history of the LPGA to win the Player of the Year Award and the Rookie of the Year Award in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. With a big finish, Park could also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.

Nobody’s ever claimed all of those awards in a single season.

It could launch Park as the next rock star.

The weight of making that much history adds major championship-like pressure, even if the golf course is not set up like a major this week.

“I know I’m not the only one in the chase,” Park said. “I know all the other competitors are feeling the same pressure.

“Once the tournament begins, when I’m inside the ropes, I don’t really worry about winning or chasing titles.”


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Ryu has the opportunity to walk away with the Player of the Year Award, the money-winning title, the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and the world No. 1 ranking. She could add all of that to the major championship title she won at the ANA Inspiration, which helped her win the Rolex Annika Major Award.

That’s a nice start to rock star status.

“This feels like a major,” Ryu said.

Lexi Thompson was close to elevating to rock star status this season. She won twice, with five second-place finishes, three of them in playoff losses, one of those at a major. It was close to being a spectacular year.

Thompson could walk away Sunday with the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the CME Globe. She leads the tour in scoring average and also leads the CME Globe standings.

Thompson’s game has never looked more complete, with improvements in her short game, wedge game and putting. She was asked if she felt dominant at any point this year.

“There are so many players out here that have spectacular games,” Thompson said. “I’ve played well this year. I’ve had a lot of consistent finishes, with second places. You only feel dominant if you’re winning every week.”

Reigning world No. 1 Shanshan Feng can walk away this week holding tight to her ranking, as well as a third consecutive victory, the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the CME Globe.

Feng could make it look like she owned this season, even without a major, with one last push this week.

“I’ve been playing well,” Feng said. “This is the last tournament of the year. I just have four more days to go, and I can enjoy my offseason.”

Maybe with a lot of hardware added to her trophy case.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm