LPGA POY: Only a Ko win can deny Jutanugarn

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NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko’s back is to the wall in the battle for the Rolex Player of the Year Award.

It’s a winner-take-all proposition for the world No. 1 this week.

Ko has to win the LPGA’s season finale in Naples to claim her second Player of the Year Award. She has to win the CME Group Tour Championship to take the honor in back-to-back years.

The points-based award has boiled down to two women, but Ariya Jutanugarn doesn’t have to win this week to become the 2016 Rolex Player of the Year. If Ko doesn’t win the CME Group Tour Championship, the award goes to Jutanugarn, no matter how Jutanugarn plays.

Jutanugarn leads Ko by 14 points in the POY standings. A victory this week is worth 30 points and second place is worth 12.

At the start of the Asian swing seven weeks ago, Ko led all the races for the big awards. She was out front in the Player of the Year standings, the money-winning list, the competition for the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the Race to the CME Globe standings. Jutanugarn now leads Ko in all but one of those categories (the Vare Trophy competition).

Though Ko’s struggles on the Asian swing cost her in the major award races, she can still sweep them all with a big week in Naples. Jutanugarn is also in position for a major awards haul.

Ko has dominated the Race to the CME Globe since it was created before the 2014 season. She has won the $1 million jackpot in the first two years of its existence.

Here is how the LPGA season-long competitions stand:

Rolex Player of the Year Points

1. Ariya Jutanugarn, 261.

2. Lydia Ko, 247.

3. Brooke Henderson, 154.

*A victory this week is worth 30 points, second is worth 12, with top-10 finishes awarded down to a single point for 10th place.

LPGA Money Winnings

1. Ariya Jutanugarn, $2,475,218.

2. Lydia Ko, $2,457,913.

3. Brooke Henderson, $1,708,173.

*There’s a $2 million championship purse this week, with $500,000 going to the winner.

Vare Trophy (for low scoring average)

1. Lydia Ko, 69.611.

2. In Gee Chun, 69.632.

3. Ha Na Jang, 69.848.

4. Shanshan Feng, 69.922.

5. Ariya Jutanugarn, 69.923,

Race to the CME Globe Points Reset

1. Ariya Jutanugarn, 5,000.

2. Lydia Ko, 4,500.

3. Brooke Henderson, 4,000.

4. Ha Na Jang, 3,600.

5. Sei Young Kim, 3,200.

6. Shanshan Feng, 2,800.

7. Minjee Lee, 2,400.

8. In Gee Chun, 2,000.

9. Haru Nomura, 1,600.

*CME Globe points are reset this week, with only the top nine mathematically eligible to claim the $1 million jackpot for the winner of the season-long competition. Here are the points that will be awarded to the top nine finishers of the CME Group Tour Championship:

1st – 3,500

2nd – 2,400

3rd – 2,200

4th -- 1,800

5th-- 1,500

6th -- 1,200

7th -- 1,000

8th – 750

9th – 650