“Jenny Money” is now eligible for the biggest deposit of her life.
Ariya Jutanugarn is in great position to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award.
And Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who led all the races for the important year-end awards beginning the fall Asian swing, finds herself in a battle to win any of them as the year winds to a close.
That’s how the big picture of the LPGA season is shaking out after Sunday’s conclusion to the Asian swing.
Shanshan Feng, a.k.a. “Jenny Money,” moved into contention for the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot by winning the Toto Japan Classic. She’s on a roll, with back-to-back victories. She now has top-four finishes in her last seven starts, dating back to her bronze medal performance in Rio de Janiero.
Feng built a big cushion Sunday with three consecutive birdies in the middle of her round, a cushion big enough that a closing double bogey couldn’t derail her after she hooked her final tee shot left in the woods. With a 2-under-par 70, Feng finished 13 under overall, one better than Ha Na Jang (68).
Feng jumps from 11th to sixth in the CME Globe standings. Only the top nine going to the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in two weeks are eligible to win the $1 million jackpot.
Jutanugarn started Sunday in solo second place, just a shot behind Feng, but closed with a 74. A victory by Jutanugarn would have clinched the Rolex Player of the Year Award for her. Still, with her tie for 10th, Jutanugarn picked up a single POY point, moving her 14 points ahead of Ko, who closed with a 69 to tie for 43rd. Ko can only win the Rolex Player of the Year title now if she wins the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Neither Jutanugarn nor Ko is playing next week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
Ko entered the Asian swing leading the Rolex Player of the Year race, the money-winning list, the Race to the CME Globe standings and the competition for the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. Jutanugarn now leads Ko in all those categories except the Vare Trophy competition, where Ko (69.61) leads In Gee Chun (69.63) by a slim margin. Jutanugarn is fifth with a 69.932 scoring average.