NAPLES, Fla. – No, Stacy Lewis doesn’t have a CPU or motherboard in her head, but her peers all know she is practically a human calculator.
She graduated with an accounting and finance degree from the University of Arkansas, and she loves running numbers in her head. Even Lewis, though, is unsure exactly how all the complex point scenarios set up for her Sunday bid to win the inaugural Race to the CME Globe and the $1 million jackpot that goes with it.
She knows this, though. If she wins the CME Group Tour Championship, she’s guaranteed she will also win the Globe. And that’s a $1.5 million payday, the richest in the history of women’s golf.
“I've been thinking about all these awards and the Race to the Globe, that kind of stuff, for three or four weeks now,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, that's not going to go away overnight. I’ve just got to go hit some greens tomorrow. That's all I'm going to try to do.”
With a 2-under-par 70 in wind and rain Saturday at the CME Group Tour Championship, Lewis assured she is the player to beat Sunday in the battle for the $1 million jackpot that goes to the winner of the season-long competition for the Globe. With Lewis, Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko taking turns atop the projected points standings on Saturday, Lewis ultimately walked away in the best position to win the jackpot.
Lewis, though, had to take a peek at an LPGA spreadsheet in the back of the media room to figure out who is best positioned to challenge her.
“I don't know exactly how it all works, but I can tell you there are people on the leaderboard I'm definitely cheering for over others,” Lewis said. “I'm not going to wish any bad on anybody else, but there are definitely some people I'm cheering for. I’ve just got to take care of business tomorrow, more than anything.”
Julieta Granada continued her strong play in the Tour Championship as she seeks to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She shot a 70 Saturday, moving to 9-under 207, good for a one-shot lead on Morgan Pressel (70) and Carlota Ciganda (71), a two-shot lead on Sandra Gal (70) and a three-shot lead on Lydia Ko (68) and So Yeon Ryu (70).
Michelle Wie (72) is four behind with Angela Stanford (67), who shot the round of the day.
Lewis is six shots back.
In a multi-layered battle for big prizes this week, Lewis is in terrific position to become the first American since Betsy King in 1993 to sweep the Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the official money title in the same season.
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park is the only player who could prevent that sweep, and she struggled to a 73 Saturday, falling five shots behind Lewis. Park sits tied for 38th on the Tour Championship leaderboard.
Basically, Park must finish at least T-8 to have a chance to win Rolex Player of the Year, must beat Lewis by 15 shots to win the Vare Trophy and must win the Tour Championship to take the official money title.
Though Lewis didn’t win a major championship this year, she could put an exclamation mark on a dominant season by walking away with all the big prizes Sunday, including that $1.5 million payday.
The battle for the $1 million Globe appears to be down to Lewis, Ko, Ryu and Wie.
With all the complex scenarios, winning the Tour Championship is the common focus. With wind and rain making for tough conditions, the difficulty of the golf course helped keep players honed in on making good swings and scores.
“I'm just going to go out there tomorrow like I did today and not think about the big money that comes at the end of tomorrow,” Ko said. “Everybody is playing pretty good in this condition. All I can do is really try my best out there, because I know it's going to be tough again tomorrow.”
Ko and Wie both wrestled away the projected top spot in points from Lewis before giving it back. At one point, Ko and Lewis were tied for the projected points lead. Wie led by herself before getting in an awkward spot in a bunker at the 11th hole and making double bogey.
“Overall, it was a tough day out there, and I still am not too far away, which I am really glad about,” Wie said. “There is a lot on the line, but you kind of just have to play golf.”