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CME Group Tour Championship

Round 4 - Jutanugarn wins tournament, Thompson wins points race and Vare Trophy

November 19, 2017
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Lexi Thompson was bogey-free and six-under par for the final round when she missed a two-foot putt on the final hole. Ariya Jutanugarn hit her approach to 20 feet and rolled in her putt to finish her round birdie-birdie and win the CME Group Tour Championship.

“To be honest, I had no expectation at all [this week],” Jutanugarn said. “I really did not think about the outcome. I really focused on the things I can control and I had so much fun this week.”

In spite of the disappointment of not winning the event Thompson won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average and got a $1 million bonus.

Had she won the tournament Thompson would have been Rolex Player of the Year but instead it ended in a tie between Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu. Park is only the second player after Nancy Lopez to win both Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season.

“It's a great honor to be walking the same path as such a great player as Nancy Lopez,” Park said. 

Thompson could also have moved up to No.1 in the Rolex Ranking but Shanshan Feng is projected to stay there.

“It was a good way to end the season” Thompson said about collecting the $1 million and winning the Vare Trophy. “Overall, a lot of positives to take from today. Winning the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy was a huge honor.” 

There were 31 players within four strokes of the lead at the start of the day including Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen as well as Jessica and Nelly Korda but in the end Jutanugarn carded a 67 for a 15-under 273 total to finish one ahead of Thompson and Jessica Korda who also shot 67s. Eun-Hee Ji and Pernilla Lindberg came in fourth at 13-under and Sung Hyun Park and Michelle Wie finished sixth at 12-under.

Pos. Player Scores Total To Par Prize Money
1 Ariya Jutanugarn 68 - 71 - 67 - 67 273 -15 $500,000.00
2T Lexi Thompson 71 - 67 - 69 - 67 274 -14 $186,576.00
2T Jessica Korda 69 - 68 - 70 - 67 274 -14 $186,576.00

Click here for full scores & prize money.

More disappointment for Thompson, but still a smile on her face

It was a sight that we saw too many times in 2017 – a wistful smile from Lexi Thompson. After her heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration. After six runner-up finishes. After her mother’s cancer diagnosis. After the loss of her grandmother. And finally, after missing a 2-foot putt that could have won multiple season-ending titles and the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Just going through what I have this whole year and seeing how strong I am and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got five, six seconds, I don’t even know, I think it just shows I just moved on,” said Thompson. “I continue to work hard in my off weeks. It didn’t stop me, and this won’t either.”

Throughout the season, Thompson showed a tremendous ability to bounce back through adversity. And while the CME Group Tour Championship did not end the way she had hoped, Thompson still walked away with the 2017 Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average, not to mention $1 million for winning the Race to the CME Globe.

“I worked extremely hard in the off-season on my short game. I knew that’s what held me back last year,” said Thompson, who will be back at Tiburon Golf Club in two weeks for the QBE Shootout, where she will be paired with fellow bomber Tony Finau. “So working on that in the off-season and then coming out strong with the Bahamas and a few other tournaments in the beginning of the year, I think it showed that the hard work paid off. I’m just going to continue to work even harder this off-season.”

New Ariya, Same Result

The 2017 LPGA season ended in a strikingly similar fashion to the 2016 LPGA season, with Ariya Jutanugarn hoisting a trophy on the 18th green at Tiburón Golf Club. This time, it was the CME Group Tour Championship trophy in Jutanugarn’s hands after what had been a rollercoaster of a year for the 2016 Role Player of the Year.

In June, Jutanugarn captured the Manulife LPGA Classic title and the Rolex Rankings No. 1 moniker along with it. The high of success didn’t last long however, as she missed the next five of eight cuts. Jutanugarn then took a step back and set a goal to have fun on the golf course, a decision that ultimately paid off with the final LPGA title of the season.

“I just set my new goal last few month after I start to play really bad,” said Jutanugarn after birdieing the final two holes to win by one stroke over Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda. “I just told my caddie, You know what? I think like think about the ranking. No. 1 is not going to help me at all. It’s not going to help me to be a better golfer. So I talk to him. Okay, so what I want to be? I want everybody to see me and see, Oh, this girl, she really feeling on the course. She can be really happy on the course and she can do anything she wants to do. That’s my new goal. I’m like, okay I’m just going to go out and have fun and stay with myself and enjoy myself.”

CME Group Cares Weekend eagles final update following the CME Group Tour Championship

CME Group Cares Weekend is a season-long charitable giving program that turns eagles into donations. For each eagle recorded during weekend play (Saturday and Sunday) throughout the 2017 LPGA Tour season, CME Group donated $1,000 to the program’s total donation count. However, at this week’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, the stakes are even higher, as the donation has been raised to a generous $5,000 per eagle. The money raised will go towards a charitable pool and be split evenly between Wounded Warrior Project® and Bright Pink®.

The weekend at the CME Group Tour Championship saw three eagles, all coming on Saturday. That puts the season’s final tally at 287, for a total donation of $299,000. Rookies Nelly Korda and Angel Yin both had eight weekend eagles to lead the pack, followed by Sei Young Kim, Stacy Lewis and Amy Yang with six apiece.

Rolex Player of the Year Final Results

For the first time in the 51-year history of the Rolex Player of the Year race, there was a tie at the top. Major champions So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park share the 2017 Player of the Year title and each earn one point toward entrance into the LPGA Hall of Fame. Park also joins the great Nancy Lopez as the only players to win Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season, with Lopez achieving the feat in 1978.

Player
Entering Week
Final Points
So Yeon Ryu
162
162
Sung Hyun Park
157
162
Shanshan Feng
159
159
Lexi Thompson
147
159

 

Race to the CME Globe Final Results

The top 12 players in the Race to the CME Globe standings heading into this week’s CME Group Tour Championship were eligible to win the $1 million bonus. Lexi Thompson, who entered the week on top of the standings, emerged as Race to the CME Globe Champion, ahead of Sung Hyun Park.

Player
Final Points (Position)
Lexi Thompson
7,450 (1)
Sung Hyun Park
6,250 (2)
Ariya Jutanugarn
5,900 (3)
Shanshan Feng
4,820 (4)
So Yeon Ryu
4,500 (5)
Brooke Henderson
4,300 (6)
In Gee Chun
3,600 (7)
Cristie Kerr
3,400 (8)
Moriya Jutanugarn
3,050 (9)
Anna Nordqvist
2,440 (11)
Stacy Lewis
2,400 (13)
Lydia Ko
1,900 (18)

Vare Trophy Final Results

Lexi Thompson captured the 2017 Vare Trophy by 0.113 point over Sung Hyun Park, earning her a point toward entrance into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

Player
Entering week
After R1
After R2
After R3
After R4
Difference
Lexi Thompson
69.147
69.171
69.143
69.141
69.114
---
Sung Hyun Park
69.259
69.232
69.181
69.25
69.247
0.133
In Gee Chun
69.269
69.316
69.35
69.383
69.383
0.301

Most million-dollar winner in a single season

This season, the LPGA set a record for players earning at least $1 million with 17. The previous mark was 15, set in 2016.

Player
Earnings
1. Sung Hyun Park
$2,335,883
2. So Yeon Ryu
$1,981,593
3. Lexi Thompson
$1,877,181
4. Shanshan Feng
$1,728,191
5. Ariya Jutanugarn
$1,549,858
6. Brooke Henderson
$1,504,869
7. Cristie Kerr
$1,414,752
8. Anna Nordqvist
$1,335,164
9. Moriya Jutanugarn
$1,320,900
10. Sei Young Kim
$1,278,166
11. In Gee Chun
$1,250,259
12. In-Kyung Kim
$1,227,674
13. Lydia Ko
$1,177,450
14. Mi Jung Hur
$1,067,462
15. Stacy Lewis
$1,057,208
16. Minjee Lee
$1,027,941
17. Danielle Kang
$1,005,983

Most players with sub-70 scoring averages in a single year

With the conclusion of the 2017 LPGA season, a record 12 players had scoring averages under 70. That breaks the previous mark of five players, set in 2016.

Player
Scoring Average
1. Lexi Thompson
69.114
2. Sung Hyun Park
69.247
3. In Gee Chun
69.415
4. Stacy Lewis
69.609
5. Inbee Park
69.673
6. So Yeon Ryu
69.682
7. Moriya Jutanugarn
69.752
8. Shanshan Feng
69.785
9. Lydia Ko
69.864
10. Brooke Henderson
69.88
11. Sei Young Kim
69.907
12. Cristie Kerr
69.951

Round 3 - Four-way tie heading into CME final

November 18, 2017
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Kim Kaufman, Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn and Suzann Pettersen produced rounds of 64, 66, 67 and 69 to get to 10-under and a share of the lead heading into the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship. To add to the crowded leaderboard eighteen players are within two strokes of the lead and another 31 with four.

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
R3
Total
T1
Kim Kaufman
-10
70
72
64
206
T1
Michelle Wie
-10
72
68
66
206
T1
Ariya Jutanugarn
-10
68
71
67
206
T1
Suzann Pettersen
-10
67
70
69
206
T5
Stacy Lewis
-9
72
68
67
207
T5
Karine Icher
-9
67
72
68
207
T5
Austin Ernst
-9
71
67
69
207
T5
Lexi Thompson
-9
71
67
69
207
T5
Jessica Korda
-9
69
68
70
207
T5
Pernilla Lindberg
-9
69
67
71
207
T5
Sung Hyun Park
-9
67
65
75
207

Quotable from the top five in the Race to the CME Globe

“I’m in a good position for tomorrow, but I am just going to focus on one shot at a time and just visualize my shots out there.”
- Lexi Thompson, tied for fifth at 9-under, 207, one-stroke off the lead

“I think that it’s going to be really important to keep my focus going into tomorrow. There is a lot of top players right now at the top of the leaderboard. Keeping my focus will be key.”
- Sung Hyun Park, tied for fifth at 9-under, 207, one-stroke off the lead

“Before I started the round I told myself, I mean, it’s time to try to go low. First two rounds obviously I didn’t play super well, so I’m a lot behind. I was trying to shoot low. I mean, 5-under was still pretty good score.”
- Shanshan Feng, tied for 23rd at 6-under, 201, four-strokes off the lead

“Putting was little better than yesterday, but I couldn’t really make lot of putts. Putting was only disappointing part of my game today. Hopefully I can make more putt tomorrow.”
- So Yeon Ryu, tied for 32nd at 5-under, 211, five-strokes off the lead

“Being this far back with that many people ahead of you it’s very unlikely that I could be the champion of this event this year. However, I can still get into the top 10, maybe even better if I get off to a hot start tomorrow and hopefully make a few putts.”
- Brooke Henderson, tied for 23rd at 6-under, 201, four-strokes off the lead

“Hermit crab” Wie looking for big win after surgery

It takes a brave woman to call herself a hermit crab to a group of media. That’s exactly what Michelle Wie did after her 6-under 66 on Saturday, one of her best rounds since having an emergency appendectomy on Sunday of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in in August. After withdrawing in Ottawa, Wie sat out nearly two months of action before teeing it up in Korea a month ago, a span where she could barely get out of bed, let alone work out or swing a golf club.

“I really did struggle for a bit just really trying to get my feel back, but every week was an improvement,” said Wie, who is laying low this week in Naples and resting as much as she can, like the aforementioned hermit crab. “Every week I felt like I got a little part of my game back. From last week I felt pretty good. I’m just excited to end the season on a good note.”

Wie has one more round between her and that good note, and Saturday’s solid play certainly helped resurrect what had been a promising season for the 28-year-old Hawaiian. Prior to her surgery, Wie had seven top-10 finishes, including the ANA Inspiration and Ricoh Women’s British Open. Without a victory to her name since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, Wie continues to look ahead with optimism.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” said Wie, who will be in the final group with Kim Kaufman and Ariya Jutanugarn on Sunday. “I had a really tough year last year, couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that’s when I play my best.”

Thompson right in contention

It if weren’t for Tiburon Golf Club’s first hole, Lexi Thompson might be on top of the leaderboard. The fan favorite, who entered the tournament leading the Race to the CME Globe, bogeyed No. 1 on Thursday and made a painful double bogey there on Saturday.

“I’m going to try a little something a little different tomorrow just to make sure that I’m nice and relaxed going into that first tee shot,” said Thompson, who as usual credited her caddie, Kevin McAlpine, with helping calm her temper after those opening difficulties. “There is always that little bit of adrenaline and just wanting to get playing and get out there and just get started. So there is always that bit of adrenaline, but you have to tame it and control it.”

But despite the opening troubles, Thompson only sits one-stroke off the lead going into Sunday’s final round. With Thompson in contention for multiple season-ending awards, no one would blame her for going all out on Sunday and playing aggressively. Not a chance, she says.

“I’m not going into tomorrow with any different attitude,” said Thompson. “Just going to go out there, free swing, commit to my targets, and just try to do my best, how I played my last 17 holes today, is just how my mindset is going into tomorrow.”

Quick Hits

• Sung Hyun Park is playing in her first CME Group Tour Championship
• Kim Kaufman is playing in her fourth CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is T20 in 2014
• Kaufman’s third-round 64 is tied for the lowest round of her career, joining the fourth round of the 2017 Meijer LPGA Classic
• Kaufman has never held or been tied for the lead after 54-holes and has never played in the final group of the final round
• Michelle Wie is playing in her third CME Group Tour Championship and also played in the 2011-13 CME Group Titleholders; her best finish is T5 in 2014
• Ariya Jutanugarn is playing in her third CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is T4 in 2016
• Suzann Pettersen is playing in her fourth CME Group Tour Championship and also played in the 2011-13 CME Group Titleholders; her best finish is T4 in 2011
• In-Kyung Kim made a hole-in-one at No. 12, with a 6-iron from 171 yards
• The last time four players were tied for the lead after 54 holes at any LPGA event was the 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I (In-Kyung Kim, Jiyai Shin, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo)

CME Group Cares Weekend eagles update after Saturday at the CME Group Tour Championship

CME Group Cares Weekend is a season-long charitable giving program that turns eagles into donations. For each eagle recorded during weekend play (Saturday and Sunday) throughout the 2017 LPGA Tour season, CME Group donated $1,000 to the program’s total donation count.

However, at this week’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, the stakes are even higher, as the donation has been raised to a generous $5,000 per eagle. The money raised will go towards a charitable pool and be split evenly between Wounded Warrior Project® and Bright Pink®.

Saturday at the CME Group Tour Championship saw three eagles, coming from In-Kyung Kim (an ace at No. 12), Austin Ernst (No. 17) and So Yeon Ryu (No. 14).

Race to the CME Globe Standings

The top 12 players in the Race to the CME Globe standings heading into this week’s CME Group Tour Championship are eligible to win the $1 million bonus.

Player
Projected Points
Projected Finish
1. Lexi Thompson
6,750
First
2. Sung Hyun Park
6,500
Second
3. Shanshan Feng
4,820
Fourth
4. So Yeon Ryu
4,480
Fifth
5. Brooke Henderson
4,320
Sixth
6. In Gee Chun
3,600
Ninth
7. Cristie Kerr
3,340
12th
8. Moriya Jutanugarn
2.99
13th
9. Ariya Jutanugarn
5,900
Third
10. Anna Nordqvist
2,460
14th
11. Stacy Lewis
3,550
11th
12. Lydia Ko
1,920
18th

Rolex Player of the Year Standings

After 54 holes, Sung Hyun Park and Lexi Thompson are tied for fifth place, which would project Park the winner by one point over So Yeon Ryu. Ryu and Shanshan Feng are still outside the top 10 (Ryu – T32; Feng – T23).

Player
Current Points
Projected Points
So Yeon Ryu
162
162
Shanshan Feng
159
159
Sung Hyun Park
157
163
Lexi Thompson
147
153

Vare Trophy Standings

Through three rounds, Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park have each recorded a score of 207 (-9). This gives Thompson a small lead of 0.109 entering the final round. For Park to win lowest scoring average, she would need to separate herself from Thompson by nine to 10 strokes.

Player
Entering Week
After R1
After R2
After R3
Difference
Lexi Thompson
69.147
69.171
69.143
69.141
---
Sung Hyun Park
69.259
69.232
69.181
69.25
0.109
In Gee Chun
69.269
69.316
69.35
69.383
0.242

Round 2 - Sung Hyun Park takes lead in CME

November 17, 2017
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Newly announced Rolex Rookie of the Year Sung Hyun Park played a second round 65 to take the lead at the Tiburón Golf Club.

Park started slowly but played five birdies in a row to finish the front nine.

“I didn't know I had made five in a row,” she said. “I got behind in writing down my score and when I did and realized what I had done it felt good.” 

Another birdie on the 12th and a 30-foot eagle on the 17th put her at 13-under. She could have broken the 36 hole tournament record but missed a 5-foot putt on the final hole which leaves her tied with Lydia Ko's score of 12-under last year.

“I just try to focus on each shot and once I'm in the game I don't think about that other stuff,” Park said about dealing with the pressure of what's on the line. “I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would. I can go into the weekend feeling a little more comfortable.”

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
Total
1
Sung Hyun Park
-12
67
65
132
T2
Caroline Masson
-9
69
66
135
T2
Sarah Jane Smith
-9
66
69
135
T4
Nelly Korda
-8
70
66
136
T4
Pernilla Lindberg
-8
69
67
136
T4
Madelene Sagstrom
-8
68
68
136
T7
Ha Na Jang
-7
71
66
137
T7
In-Kyung Kim
-7
70
67
137
T7
Jessica Korda
-7
69
68
137
T7
Sei Young Kim
-7
68
69
137
T7
Suzann Pettersen
-7
67
70
137

 

Cross-country putt at 18 for Lindberg

It’s not too often that you see triple digits on distance for a birdie putt. But that’s exactly what Pernilla Lindberg had at No. 18, where she drained a 100-footer for her third consecutive birdie and a tie for fourth going into the third round of the CME Group Tour Championship.

“I was playing for of the middle of the green and just missed my second shot a little bit to the right, so I had to putt all across the whole green,” said Lindberg, whose second-round 67 is the best round of her six career starts at Tiburon Golf Club. “I had a flashback from that pin from last year. I remember it’s not as quick as it looks toward the end, so this year I hit it a little bit harder than I remember doing before and it trickled right into the hole.”

That putt raised a massive cheer from the gallery, and caused Lindberg to thrust her fist in the air in triumph. She has never finished better than 42nd at this season-ending event, making that putt an exclamation point on a day that could lead to her best-ever week in Naples.

“To be honest, I haven’t really figured this course out the last few years, but I feel like going into to this year I am just striking it pretty good,” said the 31-year-old Swede. “I’ve been hitting it good off the tee for the last few weeks. That’s really what is setting me up for not really making any mistakes out there.”

Pettersen survives the highs and lows of the game

For Friday’s first nine holes, it looked like vintage Suzann Pettersen making her way around Tiburon Golf Club. The 14-year LPGA veteran from Norway made three birdies and an eagle on her opening nine to make the turn at 5-under 31 and within one stroke of leader Sung Hyun Park.

But from there, it all fell apart for Pettersen. Bogeys at 13 and 14, followed by a double bogey at 15, sent her plummeting down the leaderboard. She was able to salvage the round with a birdie at No. 18 and was at least able to walk off the golf course with a smile.

“Obviously nice to finish with a birdie, but just three really bad drives that puts me completely out of position. I got screwed on one shot after another,” said Pettersen, a 15-time LPGA Tour winner. “Not the best back nine, but still only halfway there. It was nice to go out this morning and kind of play good, be aggressive, and kind of see shots being executed the way you imagine them.”

As she freely admits, it was not a memorable year for Pettersen, who was sidelined midseason with a back injury that caused her to withdraw from the European Solheim Cup Team. But anyone who has followed Pettersen’s career knows one fact clearly – never count her out.

“To finish off on a good note would make Christmas taste maybe a little bit sweeter,” said Pettersen. “I’m going to keep working hard and keep kind of grinding. I know if I do the right stuff it’s going to pay off. I already proved that to myself a million times before.”

Quotable from the Race to the CME Globe

“I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn’t a good start to the round. Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes. My caddie, Kevin, help me with that.”

- Lexi Thompson, tied for 12th at 6-under 138

“To be honest, I don’t feel quite as nervous as I thought I would. After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I’m not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.”

- Sung Hyun Park, in the lead at 12-under 132

“I just didn’t putt very well again, although I hit some good putts, some that hit the lip and some that just didn’t go in. My shoulder felt good. I was a little concerned about it on the first nine and maybe a little worried that it might hurt again but by the back nine I didn’t worry because it didn’t hurt at all. So, much better.”

- So Yeon Ryu, tied for 39th at 1-under 143

“Just really couldn’t get anything going. I bogeyed the second hole again, same as yesterday. That kind of killed the momentum a little bit. I feel like I was struggling to get it back. I was 3-up on the back nine; birdied 10. I had a great crowd out there supporting me, a lot of Canadians, which is really cool. I feel like after the birdie on 10 I found some more energy and tried to dig down deep. You know, 17, 18 to finish birdie, birdie is really nice. Before that I was a little bit down and now I’m back in good spirits.”

- Brooke Henderson, tied for 25th at 4-under 140

Race to the CME Globe Standings

The top 12 players in the Race to the CME Globe standings heading into this week’s CME Group Tour Championship are eligible to win the $1 million bonus. Through two rounds, Sung Hyun Park sits in first place, ahead of Lexi Thompson. Spots three through nine are unchanged from the pre-tournament standings.

Player
Pre-Tournament
Post-Second Round
Lexi Thompson
1st
2nd
Sung Hyun Park
2nd
1st
Shanshan Feng
3rd
3rd
So Yeon Ryu
4th
4th
Brooke Henderson
5th
5th
In Gee Chun
6th
6th
Cristie Kerr
7th
7th
Moriya Jutanugarn
8th
8th
Ariya Jutanugarn
9th
9th
Anna Nordqvist
10th
13th
Stacy Lewis
11th
T17
Lydia Ko
12th
T17

 

Rolex Player of the Year Standings

Sung Hyun Park leads the CME Group Tour Championship through 36 holes, and thus is in control heading into the weekend. So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Lexi Thompson all sit outside the top 10 (Ryu – T39; Feng – T39; Thompson – T12).

Player
Current Points
Projected Points
So Yeon Ryu
162
162
Shanshan Feng
159
159
Sung Hyun Park
157
187
Lexi Thompson
147
147

 

Vare Trophy Standings

After the second round, Lexi Thompson remains in the lead with the lowest scoring average ahead of Sung Hyun Park, but the difference is now only 0.038 due to Park recording another sub-68 round. Park is currently ahead of Thompson by six strokes in the tournament standings, and needs to be nine to 10 strokes better than Thompson (10 strokes better if Thompson reaches 10-under par or more) to win the Vare Trophy on Sunday.

Player
Entering This Week
After First Round
After Second Round
Difference
Lexi Thompson
69.147
69.171
69.143
---
Sung Hyun Park
69.259
69.232
69.181
0.038
In Gee Chun
69.269
69.316
69.35
0.207

Round 1 - Peiyun Chien and Sarah Jane Smith share lead in Florida

November 16, 2017
Embed from Getty Images

Sarah Jane Smith and Peiyun Chien both returned opening-round 6-under 66s on Thursday to sit atop the leaderboard at the LPGA Tour’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

Smith and Chien, both looking for their first LPGA victories, share a one-stroke lead over Suzann Pettersen, Karine Icher, Lydia Ko, Azahara Munoz and Sung Hyun Park.

Smith and Chien both returned bogey-free rounds on Thursday, with Smith carding the lowest first round of her career. In the first group off No. 1, the 33-year-old Australian opened with five consecutive pars, but really got her day moving with an eagle at the par-5 sixth.

“I holed some nice putts,” said Smith, whose best career finish is second at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and the 2016 Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational. “It was a bit rough in the beginning, but holed some nice putts for par and sort of kept it going, and then made some good birdies coming in.”

For 2017 rookie Chien, it was certainly a round to remember. The 27-year-old from Chinese Taipei returned the second-lowest round of her LPGA career, behind only a opening-round 64 at the 2017 Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I. That week, she went on to tie for third and earn her only career top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour.

“Just need to more believe myself,” said Chien. “I change a little (my) backswing, so feel a little bit more solid.”

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
T1
Peiyun Chien
-6
66
T1
Sarah Jane Smith
-6
66
T3
Sung Hyun Park
-5
67
T3
Lydia Ko
-5
67
T3
Azahara Munoz
-5
67
T3
Karine Icher
-5
67
T3
Suzann Pettersen
-5
67
T8
Ariya Jutanugarn
-4
68
T8
Sei Young Kim
-4
68
T8
Marina Alex
-4
68
T8
Madelene Sagstrom
-4
68

Quotable from the top five in the Race the the CME Globe

“Coming into the day I was playing aggressively, you know, hitting drivers and a lot of the 3-woods out there. I play this golf course pretty aggressively, so I didn’t have a different game plan. Yeah, getting the first round under my belt with a 1-under par, I’m definitely going to play aggressive going into tomorrow.”

Lexi Thompson, with a first-round 1-under 71

“Today is the second day I played the course. First day was for the pro-am. I think the course suits my game really well. It feels good. There is a little bit of a bounce on the greens, but I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Sung Hyun Park, with a first-round 5-under 67

“You have to prepare like you are going to win the tournament. That’s what I always do before the tournament. Then, I mean, my preparation is good enough to win the tournament. I think everything depends on how you really play on the course.”

Shanshan Feng, with a first-round 2-under 70

“I cannot project the result after this week, but at least I really want to do my best. Like that’s what I did for this whole season; I just don’t want to give up. I knew my condition wasn’t really great on Tuesday, but I really wanted to do my best and I really wanted to see my whole team is kind of working on to make my shoulder better.”

So Yeon Ryu, with a first-round even-par 72

“I leaderboard watch all the time if I’m in contention or not, so I was always looking at it throughout the day. It’s just the first round. There are three days left. If I can make a few more putts, few more birdies, I think good things will come my way.”

Brooke Henderson, with a first-round 2-under 70

Smith slowing down for a good reason

It’s been an up-and-down season for Australian Sarah Jane Smith. The 11-year LPGA Tour veteran has only missed four cuts, but has also only found the top 10 twice, in her home country in February and two weeks ago in Japan. However, her last three events did bring three top-15 finishes, and Smith says she has finally found something in her swing that clicked. All she had to do? Slow down.

“I’ve been working on a little bit more tempo in my swing. I can get really fast out there,” said Smith, who has worked with coach Sean Foley for the last two years. “I sort of made a conscious effort a few weeks ago to sort of do it on the golf course, and it’s made a huge difference.

“I’m obviously a slow learner,” she added with a laugh. “Slowing down has made everything else easier.”

Muñoz hoping to end on a high note

The 2017 LPGA season has not been one to remember for Azahara Muñoz. The Spanish native only missed five cuts, but could only muster a season-best finish of T15 at the Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim. She even missed the Solheim Cup, the first time she has not represented Europe since the 2009 match.

Muñoz did win her home country’s national championship, the Ladies European Tour’s Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open De España Femenino, for the second consecutive year. She pointed to that win in late September as a bright spot, and she certainly enjoyed the sight of her name in a tie for second on the leaderboard after Thursday’s first round.

“Obviously the year hasn’t gone quite as well as I wanted it,” said Muñoz, who won the 2012 Sybase Match Play Championship for her only career LPGA victory. “Winning in Spain was pretty important to me. I know it’s not an LPGA event, but it was my hometown and it meant a lot. That changed things a little bit. I want to finish strong and finish the year on a good note because it hasn’t been quite what I would have liked.”

Race to the CME Globe Standings

The top 12 players in the Race to the CME Globe standings heading into this week’s CME Group Tour Championship are eligible to win the $1 million bonus. After her first-round 67, Sung Hyun Park has pulled into first place, ahead of Lexi Thompson.

Player
Pre-Tournament
Post-First Round
Lexi Thompson
1st
2nd
Sung Hyun Park
2nd
1st
Shanshan Feng
3rd
3rd
So Yeon Ryu
4th
5th
Brooke Henderson
5th
4th
In Gee Chun
6th
8th
Cristie Kerr
7th
11th
Moriya Jutanugarn
8th
12th
Ariya Jutanugarn
9th
10th
Anna Nordqvist
10th
15th
Stacy Lewis
11th
18th
Lydia Ko
12th
6th

 

Rolex Player of the Year Standings

Sung Hyun Park sits in a tie for third with four other players after the first round of the CME Group Tour Championship. So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Lexi Thompson all are positioned outside the top 10 (Ryu – T45; Feng – T18; Thompson – T36). If the award was handed out today, Park would walk away the winner by four points. Ryu, Feng and Thompson would earn no further points.

Player
Current Points
Projected Points
So Yeon Ryu
162
162
Shanshan Feng
159
159
Sung Hyun Park
157
166
Lexi Thompson
147
147

 

Vare Trophy Standings

After the first round, Lexi Thompson remains in the lead for low scoring average ahead of Sung Hyun Park by 0.061. Park’s round of 67 today closed the gap by 0.051. Thompson entered the week ahead of Park by 0.112.

Player
Entering This Week
After First Round
Difference
Lexi Thompson
69.147
69.171
---
Sung Hyun Park
69.259
69.232
0.061
In Gee Chun
69.269
69.316
0.145

Scores

Pos. Player Scores Total To Par Prize Money
1 Ariya Jutanugarn 68 - 71 - 67 - 67 273 -15 $500,000.00
2T Lexi Thompson 71 - 67 - 69 - 67 274 -14 $186,576.00
2T Jessica Korda 69 - 68 - 70 - 67 274 -14 $186,576.00
4T Eun-Hee Ji 69 - 70 - 69 - 67 275 -13 $109,523.00
4T Pernilla Lindberg 69 - 67 - 71 - 68 275 -13 $109,523.00
6T Sung Hyun Park 67 - 65 - 75 - 69 276 -12 $73,411.00
6T Michelle Wie 72 - 68 - 66 - 70 276 -12 $73,411.00
8T Nelly Korda 70 - 66 - 73 - 68 277 -11 $53,085.00
8T In-Kyung Kim 70 - 67 - 71 - 69 277 -11 $53,085.00
8T Kim Kaufman 70 - 72 - 64 - 71 277 -11 $53,085.00
11T Sei Young Kim 68 - 69 - 75 - 66 278 -10 $39,096.00
11T Jenny Shin 73 - 67 - 68 - 70 278 -10 $39,096.00
11T Charley Hull 70 - 70 - 68 - 70 278 -10 $39,096.00
11T Stacy Lewis 72 - 68 - 67 - 71 278 -10 $39,096.00
11T Suzann Pettersen 67 - 70 - 69 - 72 278 -10 $39,096.00
16T Lydia Ko 67 - 71 - 72 - 69 279 -9 $29,601.00
16T Ha Na Jang 71 - 66 - 73 - 69 279 -9 $29,601.00
16T Amy Yang 70 - 73 - 65 - 71 279 -9 $29,601.00
16T Jin Young Ko 71 - 69 - 68 - 71 279 -9 $29,601.00
16T Pornanong Phatlum 70 - 68 - 70 - 71 279 -9 $29,601.00
21T Shanshan Feng 70 - 73 - 67 - 71 281 -7 $24,865.00
21T Cydney Clanton 73 - 68 - 68 - 72 281 -7 $24,865.00
21T Anna Nordqvist 70 - 69 - 70 - 72 281 -7 $24,865.00
21T Austin Ernst 71 - 67 - 69 - 74 281 -7 $24,865.00
25T Katherine Kirk 74 - 72 - 67 - 69 282 -6 $20,958.00
25T Jeong Eun Lee 73 - 70 - 69 - 70 282 -6 $20,958.00
25T Azahara Munoz 67 - 72 - 72 - 71 282 -6 $20,958.00
25T Brooke M. Henderson 70 - 70 - 70 - 72 282 -6 $20,958.00
25T Marina Alex 68 - 71 - 71 - 72 282 -6 $20,958.00
30T Moriya Jutanugarn 70 - 72 - 70 - 71 283 -5 $17,168.00
30T Wei-Ling Hsu 70 - 70 - 72 - 71 283 -5 $17,168.00
30T So Yeon Ryu 72 - 71 - 68 - 72 283 -5 $17,168.00
30T Brittany Lincicome 70 - 68 - 73 - 72 283 -5 $17,168.00
30T Karine Icher 67 - 72 - 68 - 76 283 -5 $17,168.00
35T Cristie Kerr 75 - 70 - 66 - 73 284 -4 $14,268.00
35T Candie Kung 70 - 72 - 68 - 74 284 -4 $14,268.00
35T Caroline Masson 69 - 66 - 75 - 74 284 -4 $14,268.00
35T Sarah Jane Smith 66 - 69 - 74 - 75 284 -4 $14,268.00
39T Jennifer Song 70 - 74 - 72 - 69 285 -3 $12,550.00
39T Minjee Lee 69 - 71 - 70 - 75 285 -3 $12,550.00
41T Carlota Ciganda 73 - 73 - 70 - 70 286 -2 $10,917.00
41T Jaye Marie Green 70 - 70 - 73 - 73 286 -2 $10,917.00
41T Megan Khang 72 - 70 - 70 - 74 286 -2 $10,917.00
41T Mo Martin 70 - 69 - 73 - 74 286 -2 $10,917.00
41T Madelene Sagstrom 68 - 68 - 74 - 76 286 -2 $10,917.00
46T Alena Sharp 75 - 74 - 69 - 69 287 -1 $9,354.00
46T Sun Young Yoo 72 - 74 - 69 - 72 287 -1 $9,354.00
46T Tiffany Joh 74 - 70 - 70 - 73 287 -1 $9,354.00
49T Mi Hyang Lee 72 - 73 - 72 - 71 288 E $8,466.00
49T Jodi Ewart Shadoff 71 - 73 - 71 - 73 288 E $8,466.00
51T In Gee Chun 73 - 72 - 72 - 72 289 1 $7,815.00
51T Lindy Duncan 69 - 78 - 68 - 74 289 1 $7,815.00
51T Peiyun Chien 66 - 73 - 74 - 76 289 1 $7,815.00
54T Lizette Salas 74 - 73 - 73 - 70 290 2 $7,223.00
54T Beatriz Recari 71 - 74 - 75 - 70 290 2 $7,223.00
56T Angela Stanford 70 - 75 - 73 - 73 291 3 $6,630.00
56T Danielle Kang 72 - 72 - 74 - 73 291 3 $6,630.00
56T Jacqui Concolino 74 - 74 - 68 - 75 291 3 $6,630.00
59T Olafia Kristinsdottir 70 - 74 - 76 - 72 292 4 $6,039.00
59T Jing Yan 75 - 71 - 72 - 74 292 4 $6,039.00
61 Aditi Ashok 71 - 75 - 75 - 72 293 5 $5,803.00
62 Ayako Uehara 71 - 72 - 75 - 76 294 6 $5,683.00
63T Mirim Lee 73 - 77 - 73 - 72 295 7 $5,446.00
63T Gaby Lopez 79 - 72 - 71 - 73 295 7 $5,446.00
63T Nicole Broch Larsen 72 - 73 - 76 - 74 295 7 $5,446.00
66T Gerina Piller 77 - 75 - 73 - 72 297 9 $5,091.00
66T Morgan Pressel 74 - 75 - 76 - 72 297 9 $5,091.00
66T Brittany Altomare 72 - 76 - 72 - 77 297 9 $5,091.00
69 Ryann O'Toole 75 - 79 - 71 - 73 298 10 $4,854.00
70T Ally McDonald 75 - 78 - 73 - 73 299 11 $4,707.00
70T Angel Yin 72 - 75 - 76 - 76 299 11 $4,707.00
72 Brittany Lang 75 - 77 - 74 - 76 302 14 $4,617.00
73 Jane Park 71 - 76 - 77 - 79 303 15 $4,559.00
WDC Sandra Gal 78 - 72 150 6 $0.00

 

Preview

DATES: November 16-19
SITE: Tiburón Golf Club, Naples, Florida
PRIZE MONEY: $ 2,500,000
Click here for tournament stats & info

Steady season for Henderson

This week’s CME Group Tour Championship marks Brooke Henderson’s 30th tournament of 2017, a rigorous schedule that saw her skip only three events. That’s not unusual for Henderson, who played 31 events in 2016, her first full year on Tour. Her aim was to see as many events as she could over her early years on Tour and learn which courses suited her game, not to mention get a hang of the intense travel that comes with being an LPGA Tour professional.

“Maybe we’ve become maybe a little bit smarter in picking and choosing,” said Henderson, who comes into this week fifth in the Race to the CME Globe. “I feel like my schedules have been the correct schedules for the way I’ve been playing, the way I’ve been feeling and the way the years have been setting up.”

Henderson’s 2016 campaign included two victories, highlighted by her first major win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and an incredible 16 top-10 finishes. While 2017 also brought two wins, her eight top 10s could lead one to believe that perhaps it was a disappointing season. That question has an easy answer – No.

“I believe it was a great follow up to last year,” said Henderson. “I had really a miracle season or the perfect season last year. So many things went perfect for me. This year I kind of battled through a little bit more, a little bit more up and down. But to get two wins out here with the amount of talented players and the consistency that’s out here on the LPGA Tour, and I’m really proud of that.”

The future is bright for China and the new world No.1

Shanshan Feng was alone in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport when she got the news she had been waiting for – she was officially the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Her reaction?

“I went into (TGI) Friday’s and I ordered a steak for myself,” said Feng with glee. “I mean, I was trying to celebrate a little bit, you know, with the steak by my own. I took a picture of it and send to my dad and my mom. I was like, I’m here celebrating.”

The fact that Feng, who is renowned for her love of cow-print pants, celebrated her achievement with a piece of meat is no surprise. The 28-year-old from the Republic of China is one of the freshest personalities on Tour, yet she sees this honor as an opportunity not just for herself, but for her entire country.

“Now is just the beginning, right?” said Feng, who rose to World No. 1 by winning last week’s Blue Bay LPGA in her home country. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be World No. 1, but at least I’ve been World No. 1. Hopefully that can encourage more people to start playing golf. I would say China will become one the strongest countries in the future.”

Feng has long been a role model for the future generation of Chinese golfers, even before she claimed the bronze medal at last year’s Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. She started the Shanshan Feng Golf Academy earlier this year, working with her long-time instructor Gary Gilchrist, and has partnered with the American Junior Golf Association since 2015. With three other Chinese players on the LPGA Tour (plus Yu Liu, who graduated from the Symetra Tour in 2017), several rising stars on the PGA Tour and a young crop of amateurs also on the rise, Feng says the future of Chinese golf is bright. However, she still takes responsibility for promoting that growth.

“If you look at International Crown standing, China is outside of the top eight. We’re ninth right now,” said Feng. “What we need to do is like for the rest of our players, I think if I have time, I should spend more time and try to help them a little more. I believe they’re talented. They’re good players. They’re going to be really good in the future.”

How would you spend $1 million?

For the top five players in the Race to the CME Globe, it’s easy to understand – win the CME Group Tour Championship and win $1 million. The question remains – how would each player spend $1 million?

“Normally when I celebrate, of course there are two things. One is food, of course. Very, good food. I don’t know what food yet, but I can tell you of course I’m going to have some good food and share the happiness with my parents.

Second thing is I’m going to buy myself presents. What I normally get are handbags. (Laughter.) So depends on how well I’m doing, and I get myself like different prices handbags. If I can really win this week -- of course if I win this week I’m going to win the million, right? I’ll become Player of the Year, and then maybe I’ll get myself a very nice handbag.”
- Shanshan Feng

“That’s a good question. Really haven’t thought about it too much. Just going to focus on the next four days, and then hopefully on Sunday I can make that decision.”
- Brooke Henderson

Quick hits

• Brooke Henderson is playing in her third CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is 13th in 2015
• Shanshan Feng is playing in her fourth CME Group Tour Championship and also played in the 2012-13 CME Group Titleholders; she won the 2013 CME Group Titleholders and tied for eighth at the 2016 CME Group Tour Championship





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