Wie in contention for $1.5M; LPGA awards breakdown

By Randall MellNovember 18, 2014, 11:15 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – What does Michelle Wie think of the $1.5 million payday possible at the CME Group Tour Championship this week?

“My first, initial thought is, 'That’s a lot of shoes,'” Wie cracked Tuesday at Tiburon Golf Club.

The LPGA wanted a big-bang finish to its year, and that is what it’s getting this week with 72 players teeing it up in the season finale. There’s the $1 million jackpot for the winner of the Race to the CME Globe, a season-long points race, and there’s $500,000 up for grabs for the winner of the Tour Championship. That’s the biggest potential payday in the history of women’s golf.

But that isn’t all that is hanging in the balance.

The Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, the official money title and the Vare Trophy are all in play this week for Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park (see below).

While Wie isn’t in on the Player of the Year competition, she could punctuate the end of a brilliant season with an exclamation point. She won the Lotte Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this season, and she also won the inaugural Rolex Annika Major Award as the best player in women’s major championships this season. The CME Globe and its $1 million jackpot would be another reward for her consistency this season. Consistency was the only real goal Wie focused on at the year’s start.

“It’s funny, [my manager] said this feels like the final day of school,” Wie said. “No, it feels like final exams. Everything matters this week.

“Obviously, the stakes are very high. I’m nervous and what not, but good golf will take care of everything. You’ve just got to go out and hit the shots.”

Wie hasn’t fully recovered from the injury to her right index finger suffered in late July. She tweeted Tuesday afternoon that she spent more than three hours getting treatment with the LPGA physiotherapy team. Wie was diagnosed with a “stress reaction” to the finger after hitting out of a deep divot at the Marathon Classic. She missed about two months recovering in the second half of the season.

“It’s just day-to-day for me right now, because it kind of flares up from time to time,” Wie said. “Unfortunately, it has been taking a very long time to heal.”

Wie has been playing well through discomfort since coming back for the fall Asian swing. She tied for fifth at the LPGA KEB HanaBank and tied for third at the Blue Bay LPGA Classic.

Here’s what is at stake this week:

Race to the CME Globe
The winner of the season-long points race takes home $1 million, with second place earning $150,000 and third place $100,000. Only the top nine in points can win the big jackpot, and only the top three are guaranteed they’ll win it if they win the CME Group Tour Championship. The points were re-set for this week’s final event:

1. Stacy Lewis 5,000 
2. Inbee Park 4,500
3. Lydia Ko 4,000
4. Michelle Wie 3,600
5. So Yeon Ryu 3,200
6. Shanshan Feng 2,800
7. Anna Nordqvist 2,400
8. Chella Choi 2,000
9. Karrie Webb 1,600

There are 3,500 points available to the winner of the CME Group Tour Championship with 2,400 for second place, 2,200 for third, 1,800 for fourth and points awarded down to 210 for 40th place.

Rolex Player of the Year
Lewis and Park are the only players who can still win the points-based award. Lewis won it in 2013, Park in 2012. The POY standings:

1. Lewis 229
2. Park 217

There are 30 points up for grabs to the winner of the Tour Championship, with 12 points for second place and nine points for third place, with points awarded down to just one for 10th place.

Rolex No. 1 world ranking
No. 2 Lewis can take back the No. 1 ranking from Park if she wins the Tour Championship and Park finishes tied for third or worse.

The official money title
Lewis and Park are the only players who can win the money title.

1. Lewis $2,502,309
2. Park $2,209,460

First place pays out $500,000 this week.

The Vare Trophy
For practical purposes, the trophy for low scoring average this season is also down to Lewis and Park. Lewis has a 69.48 scoring average, Park a 69.57 average. Park would have to beat Lewis by roughly 10 shots this week to take the trophy. Lewis won the Vare Trophy in 2013, Park in 2012.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”