Shanshan Feng, the newly crowned world No. 1 who’s riding a popular streak after back-to-back wins in Asia, may be the player to beat when she, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Cristie Kerr, and Rookie of the Year Sung Hyun Park, headline a talent-rich field at this week’s LPGA finale, the CME Group Tour Championship.
Much is on the line heading into the year-ending event, including Park’s quest to become just the second player in tour background to case both Rookie and Participant of the Year honors in the same season. Nancy Lopez completed the feat in 1978; Park must finish in the top six to match the Hall of Famer’s achievement.
In addition to Park duking it out with Feng, Thompson, and So Yeon Ryu for PoY, all four are competing your money can buy title, while Lexi has a minor edge over In Gee Chun for lowest average score, with Ryu and Stacy Lewis as well in the performing for the Vare Trophy.
There’s also a good contest for who will end the year atop the Rolex Ranks, after Feng – the initial Chinese player, male or female, to attain No. 1 – merely surpassed Park for bragging rights following the latter held the location for just one week. In golf’s variant of musical chairs, Park overtook Ryu before this month after a 19-week reign, which followed Ariya Jutanugarn’s fourteen days as the top-rated tour participant after she deposed Lydia Ko (85 weeks on top) in June.
Three hundredths of a point separate the top 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings likely to this week’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Scenarios for @shanshanfengCHN, Sung Hyun Park & @1soyeonryu will end up being crazy: pic.twitter.com/LaREBFoDxz – Randall Mell (@RandallMellGC) November 13, 2017
And, of training course, there’s the tiny matter of the $1 million CME Globe bonus, which any one of several players, including the aforementioned rivals, Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn, and Ko, could procure.
Seeking her only victory in 2017, Ko was the first player going to the $1 million jackpot, in 2014; she repeated the achievement in 2015.
Ariya Jutanugarn banked the huge paycheck this past year at Tiburon DRIVER in Naples, Fla., while Charley Hull hopes to repeat as tournament champion.
Here’s how the various races form up before Thursday’s start:
Player of the Year points
So Yeon Ryu (2-time winner in 2017, including ANA Inspiration) – 162
Shanshan Feng (3 victories) – 159
Sung Hyun Park (2 victories, incorporating U.S. Women’s Open up) – 157
Lexi Thompson (2 victories; must gain CME to case PoY) – 147
Lexi Thompson – 69.147
Sung Hyun Park – 69.259
In Gee Chun – 69.269
Stacy Lewis – 69.614
So Yeon Ryu – 69.630
CME Race to the world post-reset points (a get by any of the major five players, who control their unique fates, earns the $1 million bonus)