One tournament to rule them all

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One tournament to rule them all

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Park Sung-hyun

The CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, is expected to be the biggest tournament of the season, as the winner for the major LPGA Tour awards - $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus, Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average - will be determined upon completion of the season finale.

“In the 67 previous LPGA seasons, there has never been as much on the line going into the final tournament as this week at the CME Group Tour Championship,” the LPGA Tour reported.

The likely contenders to sweep the awards are Park Sung-hyun and Ryu So-yeon.

Depending on the result of the tournament this weekend, the two are in a great position to win a $1 million bonus, which has never been done by a Korean golfer since the Race to the CME Globe points was first introduced on the LPGA Tour in 2014.

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Ryu So-yeon

Currently, Park is ranked second at 4,750 points, and Ryu is fourth at 4,250 points. Lexi Thompson of the United States is the leader in the Race to the CME Globe race at 5,000 points, but since the winner of the tournament will receive 3,500 points, a victory in the season finale will allow either Park or Ryu to take home about $1.62 million this weekend in addition to the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking.

The Player of the Year award will likely be determined between Ryu, Park, Thompson and ShanShan Feng of China. Ryu is the leader at 162 points, but from back-to-back victories in the last two Asian Swing series, Feng moved up to second at 159 points.

Since the winner at this week’s CME Group Tour Championship will be given 30 points in the Player of the Year point standing, Thompson, ranked fourth in this category, too has her chance to win the prestigious Player of the Year award.

Looking at the point distribution, where the runner-up receives 12 points and third place finisher receives nine, Park has a better chance at becoming the player of the year than Thompson, as she’ll have a possibility if she finishes sixth or better this weekend.

The Vare Trophy, awarded to a player with the lowest scoring average by the end of the season, now has only three candidates - Thompson, Park and Chun In-gee.

Park is trailing behind Thompson by 0.112 stroke, but for Park to overcome what seems to be such small number, her four day total scores will have to be ten shots or better than Thompson’s. But if Thompson’s four day scores are below ten under-par, then Park will need to finish nine shots or better.

And Chun, who hasn’t won a tournament this season, is aiming for her second consecutive Vare Trophy. Based on Chun’s current scoring average of 69.269, she’ll have to finish ten shots or better than Thompson this weekend.

In the 2017 LPGA money leader, Park is the dominant leader exceeding $2.2 million so far in the season, but this can also change as Thompson, ranked fourth in this category, is about $570,000 behind Park.

All four rounds will be aired live on JTBC Golf channel starting Friday morning.

BY KIM DU-YONG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]

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