Lydia Ko takes home the richest prize in women’s golf at the CME Group Tour Championship. The 25-year-old New Zealander was also named LPGA Player of the Year and moved one step closer to induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame. (AP) — NAPLES, Fla. Lydia Ko has never won more in a single day than she did on Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship, when she earned the largest reward in women’s golf at $2 million, allowing her to become LPGA player of the year.
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In the final round, Ko overcame Leona Maguire of Ireland, grabbing control with a 7-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and finishing with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot triumph. Unfazed by the strong but intermittent wind, Ko wiped away tears as she tapped in for par on the last hole at Tiburon Golf Club. “There was a lot on the line today,” Ko said. “I was determined to play the best golf I could. I knew it would be a difficult struggle, particularly given the harsh circumstances.”
The $2 million reward increased her season earnings to little over $4.3 million, leaving her $591 shy of Lorena Ochoa’s 2007 single-season earnings record. Ko earned the LPGA Player of the Year title for the second time, as well as the Vare Trophy for having the lowest scoring average for the second year in a row.
Player of the year and the Vare Trophy are both worth one point, therefore she has 25 points toward the 27 required for the LPGA Hall of Fame.
The 25-year-old Kiwi, who started the final round tied with Maguire, seized her first lead with a birdie on the par-3 8th hole. When Lydia Ko struck her tee shot just short of the pin on the par-3 16th and completed the 7-foot birdie putt, she was still leading by one stroke. Ko two-putted from 25 feet for birdie on the par-5 17th to maintain her two-shot lead heading into the last hole, and she played it safe from there. Ko won the LPGA Tour finals for the second time, finishing at 17-under 271. Her first CME Group Tour Championship triumph came in 2014, when she was 17 and already a prominent presence in women’s golf.
At the age of 25, Lydia Ko is on the brink of induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame, a monument to how outstanding she has been for so long. “I’m delighted the shot I won with my spectacles in 2014 may be updated,” Lydia Ko remarked. She finished the year with three wins, her first multiple-win season since 2016, and nine additional top-five finishes.
Maguire’s chances started to evaporate when she shot a fairway metal that was so thin it didn’t clear the hazard on the par-5 14th. She took a penalty drop, couldn’t get to the green because of the heavy wind, and had to get up and down with a wedge to save bogey.
Lydia Ko, on the other hand, hit her second shot over the edge of a hill and into the hazard, and she also made bogey to maintain her one-shot lead. Maguire finished second with a score of 72. From the $7 million purse, it was worth $550,000. Anna Nordqvist finished third with a 67. Ko enters the offseason with hopes to marry. “This is my last competition as a single woman,” she joked at the title ceremony.
She currently has 19 career wins, the first of which came ten years ago in Canada when she was 15 years old.