The LPGA “Race to the CME Globe” kicks off Nov. 20 for four days at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
The Race to the CME Globe is the LPGA’s version of the PGA’s FEDEX Cup. A season-long amassing of points based on wins, cuts made, top 10s through top 40s all wrap up after this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational by Banamex in Mexico. However, the seeds for the race are falling into place after this past week’s completion of the six week East Asia swing.
Currently, Stacy Lewis, who lost her No. 1 Rolex ranking to Inbee Park during the six weeks in Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan, cannot be caught as the No. 1 seed. Lewis leads by 911 points over No. 2 seed Park. The most points that can be earned this week are 500.
Vying for the third seed are Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Michelle Wie. Ko leads Wie by 374 points. The top three seeds are important because each of the three controls her own destiny with a win in the season-ending tournament. The point totals will be reset so that any of the top three can win and collect the bonus of $1 million in addition to the first place prize.
The top seed, Lewis, will be allotted 5,000 points for her first place season finish. Second seed, Park, will be reset to 4,500 points, and the third seed will get 4,000 points with each successive seed in the Top 10 receiving 400 fewer points per slot.
The awarded points in the championship will be 3,500 for first place, 2,400 for second and 2,200 for third. That 1,100-point difference means any of the top three will pocket the $1 million with a win. However, if none of the top three come in first, then the position of finish will be a hole-by-hole recalculation during the tournament, much like the FEDEX Cup was. Any of the top nine will then be able to win the championship.
Those still in contention in slots five through 10 currently are Canadian Pacific winner So Yeon Ryu, two-time winner Anna Nordqvist, last year’s CME championship winner Shanshan Feng, latecomer Chella Choi, perennial star Karrie Webb and member of the International Crown winning team Azahara Munoz, who skipped the last tournament in Japan and lost her ninth spot to Webb.
The top 72 players and ties after the Lorena Ochoa Invitational will qualify for the CME championship with each player earning an additional amount based on her final standing. On the bubble is Dame Laura Davies, who came within one shot of becoming the oldest winner ever on the LPGA tour last week in Japan.
Tiburon is a 36-hole Greg Norman designed layout with a gold and black course. It contains sod-walled bunkers, much like Scottish courses with no rough. Landing areas are tight, and the greens are like lightning.
So who has the inside track to take home the prize? Park finished one shot ahead of Lewis in last year’s CME championship and seems to have her number after out-dueling her head-to-head over the final 18 holes at the Fubon Taiwan Championship in late October.
Ko has fallen off her earlier torrid pace, undoubtedly due to the first year players getting used to the demands of travel and play. If Park doesn’t win the globe, I’ll be more than surprised. After getting her recent wedding out of the way and settling in a new house in Las Vegas, Park should not have any distractions. She is also one of the best putters on tour and rarely makes ball striking mistakes, which will prove costly at Tiburon. Look for her to cash in and take home the CME globe.