Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko is vying to defend her title.
Ariya Jutanugarn is trying to win back-to-back major championships.
Brooke Henderson is going for her second major of the year.
Brittany Lang is bidding to become the first American to win two major championships in a year since Juli Inkster won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open 17 years ago.
And the South Koreans are hoping to avoid getting shut out in the majors for the first time since 2010.
There’s a lot at stake this week at the Evian Championship in France, the final major championship of the season, including the most compelling race yet for the game’s newest prize, the Rolex Annika Major Award. It’s a point-based award that goes to the player with the “most outstanding record” in the year’s five majors.
Michelle Wie won the award named for Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam in its inaugural year in 2014 and Inbee Park claimed it last year.
With world No. 1 Ko, No. 2 Jutanugarn and No. 3 Henderson all in the running for the Annika Award, youth’s dominance of the women’s game continues to build as this season’s most salient theme.
Ko became the youngest winner of a women’s major when she prevailed at Evian last year at 18 years, 4 months and 20 days old. Henderson became the second youngest winner of a major back in June taking the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at 18 years and 9 months old. Jutanugarn was the second youngest winner of the Ricoh Women’s British Open in July at 20 years, 8 months and 8 days old.
The average age of this year’s LPGA winners is 21.5 years old.
The average age of the top 10 players in the world is 23.4.
If Ko, Jutanugarn or Henderson win the Annika Award, it’s possible every major LPGA award except for the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award will be won by a player who hasn’t yet reached her 21st birthday.
Here’s a closer look at how the races for the game’s big prizes shape up as the LPGA begins its run down the home stretch with nine events left this season:
Rolex Player of the Year
Ko and Jutanugarn are in what looks likely to remain a two-woman battle.
Ko takes 247 Rolex Player of the Year points to the Evian Championship, five more than Jutanugarn, with Henderson a distant third at 131 points. POY points are doubled this week with a victory worth 60 points, second place worth 24 . . . with points awarded down to 2 for a 10th-place finish.
Ko won her first POY title last year.
LPGA Money Title
Ko takes $2,382,167 in earnings to Evian, with Jutanugarn second at $2,132,483 and Henderson third at $1,350,430.
With the Evian purse at $3.25 million, the winner’s check is $487,500.
Ko won her first LPGA money title a year ago.
The Vare Trophy
Ko leads the LPGA with a 69.197 scoring average, more than a half a stroke better than In Gee Chun at 69.789.
Ko is looking to win her first Vare Trophy. She finished second to Inbee Park in a tight race a year ago.
Race to the CME Globe
Ko (4,214), Jutanugarn (3,966) and Henderson (2,676) are 1-2-3 in the standings in the season-long race to the $1 million jackpot.
A victory in this week’s major is worth 625 CME points. A victory in regular tour events is worth 500 points.
Ko is vying to win the $1 million jackpot for a third consecutive year, every year since the season-long competition’s inception in 2014. The points will be re-set at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship with only the top nine in points having a chance to win the jackpot.
Rolex Annika Major Award
Ko, Henderson, Jutanugarn and Lang are the only players who still have a chance to win the award for the “most outstanding record” in the year’s five majors.
Here are the point-based standings:
A victory is worth 60 points, second place worth 24 points, third place worth 18 . . . with points awarded down to two points for 10th place. It’s the same points allotment given for POY points in majors.
Ko and Jutanugarn are guaranteed to win the Annika Award with victories at Evian this week, but if Henderson or Lang win Evian, they won’t take the award unless Ko finishes third or worse. So, notably, it’s possible Henderson or Lang could win two majors this year and not win the award.
Rolex Rookie of the Year
Chun is running away with the award.
With 923 points, Chun has more than double the total of the next best player, Gaby Lopez (427).
Megan Khang is third with 338 points.