Important prizes hang in the balance with the LPGA’s season in its home stretch.
This week’s Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship is the first of five events that will test the finishing kicks of the world’s best women.
Rolex world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu and No. 2 Sung Hyun Park will continue their tight battle for the top world ranking in Taiwan while also jockeying for position to claim other coveted awards and honors. No. 3 Lexi Thompson isn’t in this week’s field.
Ryu’s reign as world No. 1 extends to 17 consecutive weeks, but Park is just .24 points behind her in average world ranking points.
The season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will decide who wins the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and likely a lot of other coveted awards.
Park is best positioned to try to sweep all the major awards left to be won. Here’s a look at how those award races are playing out:
Rolex Player of the Year
Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA’s POY isn’t decided by a player vote. If it were, this year’s race would be a tough choice.
The LPGA decides this award in a points-based race, and here are the standings:
1. So Yeon Ryu, 153
2. Lexi Thompson, 147
3. Sung Hyun Park, 142
4. In-Kyung Kim, 124
5. Anna Nordqvist, 114
There are 30 points awarded to the winner in regular tour events, including the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, with 12 for second place, nine for third and on down to a single point for 10th place.
Ryu and Park are each committed to playing in four of the final five events. So far, Thompson is listed on the published field lists of just two of them.
Here’s a summary of the seasons for these top five players:
Ryu – Two victories, including a major (ANA Inspiration, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship), 11 top-10 finishes, six top-five finishes. Leads in Rolex Player of the Year points.
Thompson – Two victories (Kingsmill Championship, Indy Women in Tech Championship), nine top-10 finishes, eight top-five finishes. Thompson was runner up five times, three of them playoff losses. Leads Race to the CME Globe standings.
Park – Two victories, one of them a major (U.S. Women’s Open, Canadian Pacific Women’s Open), eight top-10 finishes, seven top-five finishes. Leads the money-winning list and leads the tour in low scoring average.
Kim –Three victories, one of them a major (Shoprite Classic, Marathon Classic, Ricoh Women’s British Open), five top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes.
Nordqvist – Two victories, one of them a major (Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Evian Championship), five top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes.
Park overtook Thompson at last weekend’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as the leader in tour scoring average.
1. Sung Hyun Park, 69.014
2. Lexi Thompson, 69.125
3. In Gee Chun, 69.366
4. Stacy Lewis, 69.545
5. So Yeon Ryu, 69.657
Park topped the $2 million earnings mark this season with her second-place finish at the KEB Hana Bank Championship on Sunday.
1. Sung Hyun Park, $2,092,623
2. So Yeon Ryu, $1,829,596
3. Lexi Thompson, $1,681,686
4. Brooke Henderson, $1,399,905
5. Anna Nordqvist, $1,192,428
Race to the CME Globe
The top 12 in points going to Naples in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will have a shot at the $1 million jackpot in the season-long points race. Anyone among the top five is guaranteed to win the big payday with a victory in Naples.
A victory is worth 500 points, with second place earning 300, third earning 190, with points awarded among the top 70 or top 40, depending if there’s a cut in the event.
1. Lexi Thompson, 3,266
2. Sung Hyun Park, 2,919
3. So Yeon Ryu, 2,776
4. Brooke Henderson, 2,631
5. In Gee Chun, 2,475
6. Ariya Jutanugarn, 2,242
7. Moriya Jutanugarn, 2,071
8. Stacy Lewis, 2,045
9. In-Kyung Kim, 2,031
10. Anna Nordqvist, 2,024
11. Cristie Kerr, 1,998
12. Sei Young Kim, 1,890
13. Minjee Lee, 1,789
14. Lydia Ko, 1,707
15. Amy Yang, 1,683
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park is in position to join Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.
Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year points-based award. There is 150 points awarded for a first-place finish, and no rookie can catch Park, even by winning every remaining event.
1. Sung Hyun Park, 1,413
2. Angel Yin, 615
3. Nelly Korda, 422