2014 LPGA Tour season draws to a close in Naples

Filed under: Florida News,Golf |

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The grand finale of the 2014 LPGA Tour season, the CME Group Tour Championship, comes to a close this weekend as the final event of the year is played at the Tiburón Golf Club located at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples. The event runs from November 20-23 and the championship brings the world’s best players to Southwest Florida in a unique, season-long point based qualifying format.

The top performers from each of the 28 events on this year’s schedule will have an opportunity to take home the largest winner’s check in women’s golf. Last year, China’s Shanshan Feng out-dueled a star-studded leader-board for her third-career victory and took home the winners check of $500,000.

The CME Group Tour Championship field is made up of three qualifiers representing every official LPGA Tour tournament, a format never previously used in professional golf. The “Race to the CME Globe” is a season-long points program that showcases the best performing players from the 2014 LPGA Tour season, and also highlights each and every title sponsor on the LPGA Tour.

One of the most dramatic LPGA seasons in history is going to conclude just as it should, with everything still on the line in the season’s final tournament. In addition to the Race to the CME Globe, the Vare Trophy, Rolex Player of the Year, and Official Money List title are all up for grabs.

Stacy Lewis (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

Stacy Lewis (pictured above) leads all three and has the chance to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to sweep all three, but Inbee Park’s been dominant since early August, reeling off nine consecutive top-10s, including eight top-fives in that stretch, and is as close as she’s been to No. 1 in each of the categories as she’s been all season. She’s already wrestled back the No. 1 Rolex World Ranking and now is coming for more.

Lewis leads by .095 in scoring average for the Vare Trophy, three points in the Rolex Player of the Year, and $292,849 on the money list. In other words, all attainable margins for Park. A big finish and Park could retake every award Lewis covets when it matters most.

A $1 million check awaits the winner of the inaugural Race to the CME Globe champion. Through 31 events, players have worked to be one of  nine that has a shot at the million dollars, but more specifically, to be one of the three that controls their own destiny. When Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko put the peg in the ground Thursday, they’ll do so knowing that a win not only will come with the CME Group Tour Championship and the corresponding $500,000 winner’s check but an assured victory in the prize that’s taken an entire season to garner – the Race to the CME Globe.

Six other players could hold both trophies on Sunday if the chips fall correctly, but they’ll need help to win the Race to the CME Globe. That’s not the case for Lewis, Park and Ko. Win and they’re the first ever Race to the CME Globe champion, their names permanently inscribed in the record books as the tour’s first season-long points Race champion.

Michelle Wie, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion, narrowly missed the top three and sits just outside in fourth after the points reset. So Yeon Ryu arrives in fifth and has played as consistent as anyone on Tour in 2014 with 14 top-10s. Shanshan Feng, the defending champion here, arrives in sixth fresh off a runner-up finish in Mexico. Anna Nordqvist assured herself a spot in the final nine with two early season wins, while Chella Choi and Karrie Webb round out the top nine after overtaking Azahara Munoz for the last two spots in the top nine with a strong close to season, finishing in a tie for 4th at the Mizuno Classic two weeks ago in Japan to cement their chance at a million.

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