NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson was on the tee at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. It was the one manner the tour’s prime American may squeeze in 18 holes earlier than the onslaught of off-the-course obligations started. After lunch, she met with print media at 1 p.m. adopted by a TV sit-down. At three p.m. she took half in a event photograph name. From Four-6 p.m., she was scheduled to shoot a industrial for the LPGA earlier than attending the event’s pro-am celebration.
The CME Group Tour Championship isn’t a serious, however there’s sufficient on the road this week in south Florida to make it really feel like one. With one robust week, Thompson may finish a tumultuous 2017 in epic vogue, sweeping the Rolex Participant of the 12 months, Vare Trophy (lowest scoring common) and $1 million CME Globe bonus.
In fact, a number of different gamers may say the identical. It’s a wide-open race to the end with 4 gamers in place to say POY honors with a victory: So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng, Sung Hyun Park and Thompson. All 4 of these gamers, plus Brooke Henderson, would take the million-dollar bonus with a win. The highest 12 within the CME factors race have a mathematical probability.
Within the Vare Trophy race, Thompson (69.147) holds a zero.112 lead over Park. The highly effective rookie should greatest Thompson by 9 strokes to edge her out (10 strokes if Thompson reaches 10-under or extra). Each the Vare Trophy and POY races are price one level towards the 27 wanted for the LPGA Corridor of Fame.
With the once-prodigious Lydia Ko caught in a winless drought, 4 totally different gamers have tried on No. 1 for the reason that Kiwi was overtaken on June 11. The final time the LPGA skilled such turnover on the prime was again in 2010 after Lorena Ochoa retired midseason. Cristie Kerr, Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato handed the consideration backwards and forwards after Ochoa walked away following 158 consecutive weeks of domination.
Park, who spent one week on prime of the world earlier this month, has an opportunity to hitch Nancy Lopez (1978) as the one gamers to win each Participant of the 12 months and Rookie of the 12 months in the identical season. The South Korean, who solely just lately discovered about Lopez’s achievements, believes successful POY would really feel like successful one other event.
Ryu realized a purpose when she turned No. 1 for the primary time on June 26. She stayed there for 19 weeks however didn’t win a event. She is now extra motivated than ever to take again that prime spot, if solely her physique will cooperate.
Ryu suffered an damage to her proper shoulder in Malaysia, a results of overuse. She was restricted to short-game observe within the days main up this occasion and performed solely 4 holes on Tuesday earlier than retiring to the placing inexperienced.
“What I’m extra motivated is after I get again to No. 1, I actually wish to be like well-deserved No. 1,” Ryu mentioned. “Like being in rivalry, like, extra typically, decide up the trophy extra typically. I actually wish to be stronger subsequent time I turn out to be No. 1.”
Whereas Thompson leads the CME Race to the Globe, she hasn’t allowed herself to consider how she may spend the additional $1 million. The winner’s share this week is $500,000, making Sunday a doubtlessly substantial payday.
“Effectively, I’ve been getting a brand new automobile,” mentioned Thompson, who has her eye on the 2018 Corvette Z06.
Thompson’s consistency this season might be traced again to final winter, when she toiled over her brief recreation. She has used the identical Bettinardi Queen Bee putter all season and stored her eyes open on the greens (each new developments). In putts per greens in regulation, Thompson rose from 49th in 2016 to eighth this season. In sand saves she jumped from 100th to first, one thing she additionally credit to improved placing.
“I made much more clutch putts that I wanted to make,” mentioned Thompson, who received twice and completed second 5 occasions.
Off the course, Thompson dealt along with her mom Judy’s bout with uterine most cancers. Thompson mentioned her mother was declared cancer-free a number of months in the past. In September after the Evian Championship, she suffered the lack of her grandmother.
Thompson, 22, doesn’t like to speak in regards to the four-stroke penalty on the final-round of the ANA Inspiration. When requested if she thinks about it, Thompson supplied a terse “no” and appeared away.
A victory on the CME and a sweep of each award that issues on the LPGA wouldn’t erase what occurred on the 12 months’s first main, however it could actually push the reminiscence additional again within the recesses of her thoughts.
The perfect sort of salve.