Charley Hull won her first LPGA title, Ariya Jutanugarn took home $1 million and the Player of the Year Award, and In Gee Chun birdied the 72nd hole to steal the Vare Trophy from Lydia Ko, who walked away empty-handed. Here’s how the LPGA season came to a close on a busy Sunday in Naples, Fla.
Leaderboard: Charley Hull (-19), So-Yeon Ryu (-17), Jennifer Song (-15), Mo Martin (-14), Beatriz Recari (-14), Ariya Jutanugarn (-14), In Gee Chun (-13), Shanshan Feng (-12), Amy Yang (-12), Lydia Ko (-11), Brittany Lincicome (-11)
The winner: Hull, 20, now has her first LPGA win after a series of close calls, including a runner-up earlier this year at the ANA Inspiration. Up one to start the day, she and Ryu went to the par-5 17th tied at 18 under. After a tight battle for 16 holes, Hull pulled ahead by two when Ryu’s approach to the 17th wound up under the lip of the bunker and resulted in a bogey-6, as Hull two-putted for birdie. She made a routine par at the last to post a closing 66, playing three of four rounds this week bogey-free en route to her first win.
Race to the CME Globe: This wasn’t quite a two-woman race between Ko and Jutanugarn, like the Player of the Year Award, but none of the contenders asserted themselves Sunday. While Ko got off to a poor start from which she couldn’t fully recover, Jutanugarn bounced back from two early bogeys, made the turn at even par and added three birdies on the back to shoot 69 and finish ahead of Ko in the CME standings.
Rolex Player of the Year: The only thing that could have stopped Jutanugarn from taking home Player of the Year was a victory by Ko, whose hopes were dashed by a front-nine 39. The award, along with the $1 million, is a fitting end to the season for the five-time winner and Women’s British Open champ.
Vare Trophy: Playing together in the same group, Chun and Ko went head to head Sunday for the award for low scoring average, with Chun coming out on top, 69.583 to 69.596. After Chun made birdie and Ko made bogey at the par-5 17th, the two went to the 18th hole with Ko leading by one one-thousandth of a point, meaning the season-long award for scoring average would come down to one stroke on the final hole of the year. In the end, Ko would miss her birdie try at 18, while Chun rolled in a 9-footer to cap a birdie-birdie-birdie finish and clinch the Vare.
Biggest disappointment: After 36 holes, Ko was in position to win the tournament, the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Player of the Year Award and the Vare Trophy. But 36 holes later, she left Tiburon with none of it. Ko threw away her chance at the tournament and POY when she bogeyed the third and doubled the ninth to fall all the way back to 8 under. Four birdies across Nos. 10-16 got her back in the hunt for the $1 million with Jutanugarn, but a dropped shot at 17 dashed those hopes and narrowed her scoring-average lead over Chun to the difference of one stroke on the final hole. Ko found the fairway and hit a quality approach into the 18th green, but her birdie try stayed right of the hole, ceding the stage and the Vare to Chun. Ko finished with an even-par 72 Sunday. With the exception of her 62 on Friday, she played her other 54 holes at Tiburon just 1 under this week.