New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finished strong with two birdies on her last three holes to wrap up the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday with a 17-under 271 in Naples, Fla.
In addition to the $2 million prize pool tied to the tournament, Ko also won the season-long points race that determines the Rolex Player of the Year, the season-long money title with over $4.3 million earned, her third LPGA tournament title of the season and the Vare Trophy for the season’s scoring champion.
“This year has been an incredible year,” Ko said. “I really could never ask for more to win so early in the season and then to have won in Korea and then win the last event of the year. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. There have been so many exciting things in my life that have been going on.”
Ko, 25, bounced back from bogeys on both the front and back nines (1, 14) to record two birdies in response each time, as she finished two-under 70 for the second straight day. Nearest challenger Leona Maguire of Ireland was within a stroke going into 16, at which point Ko scored back-to-back birdies to build enough breathing room to close out her 19th career victory at Tiburon Golf Club.
The earnings win was the third of Ko’s career (2014, 2015), while the win also provided her first Rolex Player of the Year title since 2015.
“It will be my last win as a single lady,” Ko said while cheering. “So, I wanted to do this for my family. This has been one of the most consistent and solid years I’ve had. I’m excited that my photo from winning here in 2014 with the glasses could get updated (laughing). Better photo this year.”
Maguire, who shot 72, came into the day tied for the lead with Ko but was hurt by two bogeys during her final round. Her birdie on 17, her second of the day, kept her within striking distance two strokes back should Ko falter on 18, but that didn’t happen.
She finished 15 under for the tournament, two strokes back.
“It was an incredible week,” Maguire said. “A really great way to finish off the season. If you had offered me second at the start of the week, I would have grabbed it with both hands. It would have been nice to play a little bit better today, but it was really tough out there today. The wind was strong. It was cold. Pins were tricky.”
Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist tied for the best round of the day with a 67 to apply the most pressure of any of the rest of the field. She had six birdies among her last nine holes (along with one par and two bogeys). Her strong finish allowed her to place third, three strokes behind Ko.
“I’m really proud of myself for staying in there and made a couple of really good putts,” Nordqvist said. “I think that was the biggest difference.”
England’s Georgia Hall tied for fourth at 12 under after matching Nordqvist’s round (67). Also in fourth was Jeongeun Lee6 (70) of South Korea.
Alone in sixth at 10 under was Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand, who scored a 70 on Sunday.
Three golfers finished tied for seventh: South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim (71), Canada’s Brooke Henderson (72) and Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh (73).
–Field Level Media