CME Group Tour Championship Preview

LPGA TOUR CONCLUDES SEASON IN NAPLES AT CME GROUP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

  • Dates: November 18 – 21, 2021
  • Course: Tiburon Golf Club
  • Format: 72 Holes
  • Par: 72
  • Yardage: 6, 556
  • Purse: $5 million; $1.5 million winner’s prize; the largest in women’s golf
  • Defending Champion: Ko Jin-young

TV TIMES (all times Eastern)

  • Thursday, November 18 – 3-5 p.m. (Golf Channel)
  • Friday, November 19 – 3-5 p.m. (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday, November 20 – 4-7 p.m. (Tape Delayed, Golf Channel)
  • Sunday, November 21 – 1-4 p.m. (NBC)

LIVESTREAM TIMES

  • (all times Eastern on NBC Sports App and golfchannel.com)
  • Thursday, November 18 – 2-5 p.m.
  • Friday, November 19 – 2-5 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 20 – 2-5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 21 – 1-4 p.m.

SOCIAL MEDIA: #DRIVEON

Tournament: @CMEGroupLPGA (Twitter), @CMEGroupTourChamp (Instagram); #RacetotheCMEGlobe

LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)

TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
18 holes: 62, Lydia Ko, second round, 2016
36 holes: 132, Lydia Ko, 2016; Sung Hyun Park, 2017; Lexi Thompson, 2018; Sei Young Kim, 2019

54 holes: 200, Lexi Thompson, 2018; Sei Young Kim, 2019
72 holes: 269 (-19), Charley Hull, 2016

Race To CME Globe Finishes At The CME Group Tour Championship

After 28 official events, the LPGA Tour returns to Naples, Fla. for the final tournament of the 2021 season at the CME Group Tour Championship, the culmination of the season-long Race to the CME Globe.

The Race to the CME Globe is a is a season-long points competition in which LPGA Members accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament to enter the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. The player who wins the CME Group Tour Championship will be named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion.” Following the Pelican Women’s Championship, the field was set to the top 60 players in the Race to the CME Globe points standings. Every player will compete in the 72-hole, no-cut competition, with an equal chance at winning the $1.5 million winner’s prize, the largest in all of women’s golf.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda highlights a field that will showcase nine of the world’s top-10 players, including No. 2 and the defending champion, Jin Young Ko. In 2020, Ko earned her way into the season-ending event in three tournaments, making her season debut only at the Pelican Women’s Championship. Ko went on to best the field by five strokes after a Sunday 66 to cap off the year with a victory, the seventh of her career at the time. Fast forward to this week, and Ko leads the Rolex Player of the Year award standings with 191 points, 10 ahead of Korda, which each player securing four wins so far in 2021.

Joining Korda and Ko are six past champions, including Lydia Ko (2014), Lexi Thompson (2018) and Sei Young Kim (2019), all coming off an appearance in the final playoff at the Pelican Women’s Championship. Seven 2020/21 Tour rookies will tee it up this week, including season winners Matilda CastrenYuka Saso and Patty Tavatanakit. A few players are competing in their first CME Group Tour Championship, including major champion Sophia Popov, who now calls Naples home.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CME GROUP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

  • This is the eighth playing of the CME Group Tour Championship and the eighth-consecutive year it will be played on the Tiburon Golf Club’s Gold Course
  • It is the 29th and final event of the 2021 season
  • 20 of the 21 Tour winners this year are in the field; Inbee Park is the only season winner not in this week’s event
  • Seven of 23 Tour rookies are also set to compete, as well as six past champions and nine of the Rolex Rankings top 10
  • The CME Group Tour Championship is one of five tournaments on the 2021 LPGA Tour schedule to be contested in the Sunshine State, along with the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Lake Buena Vista, Gainbridge LPGA in Orlando, Drive On Championship presented by Volvik in Ocala, and the Pelican Women’s Championship in Belleair.

CME Group Tour Championship Purse to Increase to $7 Million in 2022

Winner of LPGA Tour’s season-ending event to earn $2 million, the largest single prize in women’s golf

Players who compete in the championship guaranteed at least $40,000

NAPLES, Fla., Nov. 17, 2021 – In a ground-breaking moment for women’s golf, CME Group and the LPGA Tour announced today that the prize fund for the 2022 CME Group Tour Championship, the Tour’s season-ending event, will grow to $7 million, up from $5 million in 2021. The winner will receive $2 million, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf, while all players who compete in the championship will receive at least $40,000.

WORLD NO. 1 NELLY KORDA RIDING CONFIDENCE BOOST AFTER PELICAN PLAYOFF WIN

The putt was nearly identical and the final result was a familiar one: Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda coming up clutch, burying a 22-foot birdie putt for the win in a four-person playoff at the Pelican Women’s Championship presented by Konica Minolta and Raymond James. After a brief stopover at home for a quick celebration of her fourth victory in the 2021 season, the 23-year-old Bradenton native comes to the CME Group Tour Championship feeling good about her game and trying to stay energized with $1.5 million on the line.

“Last week was definitely a confidence boost, but I’ve always said it’s really hard to kind of win back to back because you’re a little mentally and physically drained from the week prior,” Korda said. “So making sure that I’m well-rested and that I’m 100% going into Thursday, and that I’ll be 100% going into Sunday as well is probably going to be my main focus this week. It would be crazy to win (the Race to the CME Globe). You never know but good golf will solve that. I haven’t even teed it up on Thursday, or the pro-am, so still a long way away. It would be nice to win another one at home. Before this year, I didn’t win a tournament on home soil so it would be nice to do it in front of family.”

Another opportunity to win back-to-back is on tap for Korda this week, echoing her Meijer LPGA Classic and KPMG Women’s PGA Championship achievement. Korda’s track record is stout — she’s carded two top-five finishes and one top-ten in just four starts at the CME Group Tour Championship — and the Floridian’s Bermuda grass roots run deep. Combine that experience with a confidence boost from Pelican and the fresh perspective of new coach Jamie Mulligan, Korda is primed for another solid showing.

A win would make her the first American to win at least five times in a season since Juli Inkster in 1999. And though she isn’t trying to get ahead of herself, there’s also a Rolex Player of the Year award on the line, something she’s never had a shot at before.

“I love this event. I love this golf course. I love any type of Florida event I can drive to. I always feel so much more at home and have family and friends come out. I’ve played well at this golf course. I grew up in Florida on Bermuda grass, so it’s kind of easier for me to adapt to this. I’m super excited to be back, and hopefully I can give it a good shot this year,” said Korda, who currently leads the Rolex Player of the Year standings with 191 points. “It’s crazy because usually I come to this event and I’m so far away from that. I see so many girls that have had an amazing year, and I’m like, ‘Okay, I would have to play amazing to even be in contention for that.’ So the fact that I’m in contention just shows how well I’ve played this year and shows how much my hard work has been paying off.”

DÉJÀ VU AND A GUARDIAN ANGEL FOR JIN YOUNG KO

She already clinched the 2021 LEADERS Top-10 title, but Jin Young Ko is hungry for more.

The 11-time LPGA Tour champion claimed Rolex Player of the Year honors in 2019 and is in the hunt to secure the award for a second time with a top finish at the CME Group Tour Championship, for which she is the defending champion. Ko is currently second in the standings, 10 points behind World No. 1, Nelly Korda.

“I would say it’s pretty much the same in 2019 and 2021, but feels way different,” said Ko, who has earned four wins so far this season. “In 2019, I had lots of confidence from early in the year to the end of the season. But early this year, I didn’t have confidence on the course, in my swing, or mental, anything.

“My swing, my game now feels almost perfect. I’m really happy to be back [at Tiburón Golf Club], and I can remember every hole, every shot from each day [last year].”

One similarity between 2019 and 2021 is Ko winning the LEADERS competition both seasons. If history fully repeats itself, then a second Player of the Year reward might not be too farfetched. “It’s really an honor to get LEADERS Top 10 twice, in 2019 and two years later. It means I play really well and really consistent during the year,” said Ko, owner of 12 top-10 finishes across 18 starts. “Especially on this Tour, a lot of good players out here but I got LEADERS Top 10. That means I was a little bit lucky.”

One big difference is the loss of her biggest cheerleader and grandmother, Soon Deok Jung, in March. It was an emotional weight that was too much to bear, at times. “I really wanted to go to Korea to see her, but I couldn’t go because quarantine is two weeks. I FaceTime with my mother and I saw grandmother on the phone, then I heard grandmother passed away from my mother before the ANA [Inspiration].

“That was the first time I really don’t want to play on the LPGA Tour. Because if I did play KLPGA, I could see her but this Tour, I love this Tour, but it’s too far from Korea. I couldn’t get back before she passed.

“I didn’t have motivation for the golf course. But still had a good year and I’m happy for that,” said Ko, who is looking to be the first with five wins in a season since She looking down on me from the sky. She really wants to see a lot of wins, so after she passed away I was thinking, yeah, she really wants to see a lot of wins from the heavens, so I work hard and I won four tournaments. So, she’s going to be happy, yep.”

GREEN NOT OUT OF CHARACTER AS AGGRESSOR IN AON RISK REWARD CHALLENGE

She seems so conservative, so demure and soft spoken. No way to you label her as a risk-taker. That would be like assuming a nun skydives or assuming that your tax accountant hunts great white sharks with a spear. Hannah Green, the 24-year-old major champion and two-time LPGA Tour winner from Perth, Australia, is quiet and thoughtful, the kind of person who listens twice as much as she speaks, who came to the U.S. as a junior with Karrie Webb and seemed perfectly comfortable hiding in the corners without uttering a peep. Since joining the Tour, she has come out of her shell in the kindest possible way. Green is unfailingly polite. Courtly. Old folks would call her “sweet.” But not a soul who knows her would categorize Hannah Green as a risk-taker.

So, when Green captured the Aon Risk Reward Challenge – a season-long contest sponsored by Aon that awards a $1 million bonus to the player with the lowest scoring average on the Aon Risk Reward Challenge holes – more than a few people who know her raised their eyebrows and said, “really?”    

“I try to be aggressive when I’m on the golf course,” Green said with a smile. “I feel like that’s where I can show that side of me.”

Then she expounded on her love for the Aon Risk Reward Challenge by saying, “I just thought this was a great concept. To be able to have the opportunity to showcase it every week was really cool.”

Green averaged almost a full shot under par on every Aon Risk Reward hole. She birdied 72% of the risk reward holes during her 40 minimum rounds needed and she made eagle on another 10%.

“It was just something I really wanted to win, especially coming down the crunch,” she said. “Maybe that shows my golf a little bit more, and hopefully I can keep this trophy for another year. … I would always read the fact sheet to see what hole (the Aon Risk Reward Challenge) was and always tried to make sure that I got a practice round on that hole.

“I wasn’t really aware of where my standings were until the British Open. (Broadcaster and former Duke Blue Devil golfer) Ally Whittaker, a friend of mine was doing the commentary for the Women’s AIG Open (and said) that I was leading. I was like, oh, okay.

“With seven or eight events left in the year anything can really happen, so the last three or four events I was definitely paying attention. When I played in Korea (at the BMW Championship) I made two birdies, which is what I needed to do.”

After the second birdie in Korea, Green reacted as if she had won another major. “I’m not very emotional when I’m on the golf course,” she said. “I don’t really fist pump a lot or high five with my caddie. But that was a big moment for me and Nate. Yeah, just shows how important it is to us LPGA players for me to, yeah, sacrifice an event, and also make decisions on the golf course.”

VARE TROPHY PROJECTIONS

Lydia Ko must complete at least one round at the CME Group Tour Championship to be eligible for the lowest scoring average. Ko is in good position to earn the Vare Trophy if she meets the minimum number of rounds (70) requirement. Ko is currently ahead of In Gee Chun by 0.317, which is a significant lead. Chun would need an average strokes per round of 63.679 at the CME Group Tour Championship to pass Ko’s current scoring average. Chun needs to be 23 strokes better than Ko to win the Vare Trophy.

Nelly Korda ranks first in scoring average in 2021 but will not meet the minimum number of rounds played to be eligible for the Vare Trophy.

Scoring average leaders since 1992 who did not win the Vare Trophy because they did not complete enough rounds:

Nancy Lopez1993
Laura Davies1996
Annika Sorenstam2003
Annika Sorenstam2004
Sei Young Kim2020
Nelly Korda2021

Jin Young Ko Wins LEADERS Top 10 Competition

Ko records 12 top-10 finishes, including four wins, during the 2021 LPGA Tour season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 17, 2021 – The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 2 Jin Young Ko has officially won the LEADERS Top 10 competition and a $100,000 bonus after accumulating the most top-10 finishes during the 2021 Tour season. Ko clinched the honor following her victory at the BMW Ladies Championship in October.

Ko earned a total of 12 top-10 finishes in 18 starts this season. Entering the CME Group Tour Championship, the 26-year-old’s year included four wins and two additional top-three results. Lydia Ko edged out Patty Tavatanakit in a tiebreak for second and third place, respectively. Both players posted 10 top-10 finishes heading into the final event of 2021.

via LPGA

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