Lydia Ko The Big Winner at LPGA Finale
Lydia Ko Wins CME Tour Championship
Lydia Koâ€™s bank account grew by a considerable amount on Sunday. Ko outlasted Julieta Granada and Carlota Ciganda in a four-hole sudden-death playoff to win the CME Tour championship in Naples.
The victory was her third this year and her fifth overall; the 17-year old is the first player of either gender to win five professional tournaments before reaching their 18th birthday.
In addition to earning $500,000 for winning the tournament, Ko also pocketed an additional $1 million for winning the first-ever CME Race to the Globe title. The total $1.5 million payout is the richest in the history of womenâ€™s golf.
The playoff became necessary after Ko, Granada, and Ciganda all finished regulation play at Tiburon Golf Club at 10-under par 278. By that point Ko was aware she had won the Race to the Globe title but she maintained her focus heading into the playoff, which was conducted entirely at the 18th hole.
â€œI was nervous,â€ Ko said, â€œbut I wasn’t like shaking really bad. I knew I was going up against two awesome players, two tough players.
â€œI said â€˜Okay, let’s just hit the fairwayâ€™ and put myself in good positions. At the end of the day I won, so it’s been amazing.â€
The playoff became a battle of attrition. Granada was eliminated at the second extra hole when she missed a six-footer for par. Ciganda, who missed a short birdie putt at the 17th during hr regulation round, missed a 6-foot birdie try on the third playoff hole that would have given her her first LPGA win. The next time through she pulled her approach into a hazard and took an unplayable lie before her attempt to chip in for par came up short.
â€œI just pulled it,â€ Coganda said. â€œI wasn’t very comfortable with the wind. I knew it was the club, but I just hit too hard and just a little bit too much left and just to the water. Just missed one shot and not the right way.
Ko was not the only winner on the final weekend of the LPGA season.
Stacy Lewis tied for ninth place at 4-under par 284 but won the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for having the tourâ€™s lowest stroke average while also finishing atop the money list. She is the first American since Betsy King in 1993 to accomplish that feat.
â€œThat’s what I came here for,â€ Lewis said. â€œI went into the week wanting to win these three awards. The $1 million and all would’ve been nice, but I would take these three over $1 million any day.â€
As for Ko, sheâ€™s hoping to pick up where she left off when the 2015 season begins on January.
â€œThis is the season finale,â€ she said, â€œand I’m excited that it’s kind of over and I finished on a good note. But next year is a whole new year. Everyone is playing great golf. Everyone is going to be really energized and fresh for next year. It’s the same mindset.
This has been a great year, but I’m never going to go a step further â€¦ and go, â€˜Oh, I won three eventsâ€™ and everything. You just never know. Golf is that kind of game.â€