This year’s top 60 LPGA players in women’s golf have been going at it in the CME Group Tour Championship. There’s a $2 million prize for the outright winner. On top of that, the Rolex Player of the Year Award is on the line as well. Past Rolex Player of the Year winners include Lydia Ko (2015) who was tied for first place in the CME Group Tour Championship going into this final round. This final round is bound to be eventful.
Round 3 Made it a Race
In Round 1, Lydia Ko made her presence known and set the tone for much of the tournament, finishing atop of the leaderboard ahead by 1 stroke. Going into Round 2 with such a slight lead, Lydia Ko separated herself from the leaderboard pack with a 66 as other top players averaged higher scores. By the time Round 2 ended, Ko had a comfortable 5 shot lead.
But any of us who have played the game of golf know that means nothing when there is plenty more golf to play.
Things heated up when Leona Maguire shot a 63 in Round 3. Shooting a 70 in Round 3 didn’t help Ko’s quest for regaining a Rolex Player of the Year Award, but it was enough to keep her tied at the top of the leaderboard. Both players ended the round 5 strokes ahead of 2 players tied for third place on the leaderboard as well as 6 strokes ahead Brooke Henderson and Anna Nordqvist tied for fifth place.
Stellar play in that third round helped both Maguire and Henderson make their runs for the top of the leaderboard. Maguire shot a stunning 63 for the round to match her 66 and 66 for the first 2 rounds, while Henderson shot a solid 65 to make a strong push towards the top after sitting tied for 26th going into Saturday’s round. Nordqvist has remained in contention for a top 10 finish since Round 1.
What I Like So Far
You’ve most probably read my prior post on the stakes of higher prize money for this event. The possibility and prospect of bagging $2 million to wrap up the season is a great focal point for plenty of the top 60 LPGA golfers in the field. That’s a key factor in this final round for the CME Group Tour Championship. Throw in that Rolex Player of the Year Award and you’ve got you a battle going on for the final event of the season for the best of the best.
Nelly Korda already showed the strength to go back to back with her title defense at the LPGA Pelican Championship. That served as a storied lead-in to the CME Group Tour Championship.
Lydia Ko is demonstrating steady play. Her 70 shot in the third round isn’t a sign of her losing it. She still remains poised and positioned to play for the title. Brooke Henderson did something amazing by climbing to the top 5 of the field from being 11 strokes behind Ko’s lead in Round 2. The type of play that we’re seeing from Maguire, Henderson, Ko, and even Nordqvist shows what happens when you put the top 60 players in the same field for the same top prize.
What This Does for the Game of Golf
The $2 million purse alone will not end the gender pay gap in professional sports. However, this type of finish for any segment of sports stands out as a new standard in a new era.
This is in the midst of the Astros regaining the World Series with Dusty Baker as its manager in a competition without a single U.S.-born African American player participating. At the same time the FIFA World Cup is cranking up on a global scale as Lionel Messi prepares to walk away from the sport and Ronaldo is doing more Ronaldo type of drama with Manchester United in the background. Not to mention football season has shown us upset upon upset week by week and the NBA has the Lakers looking like losers at the bottom of the Western Conference.
In my opinion, sports fans need truth serum every so often just to bring folks back to reality. Watching the season opener of the Lakers, I was disappointed. The shot selection was horrible. Every single NBA pro isn’t a 3-point shooter. Maybe that memo got missed. I can critique all that I want to and all day long. That doesn’t change the fact that they’re pros and I am nothing but a fan of both the sport and team.
I can Monday quarterback all that I want to in hindsight as I explain why the Raiders are losing the way that they keep losing and break down how it’s not all on Derek Carr until I am out breath and totally drained of ideas. That doesn’t change a single thing. That has me thinking I can do better. Or, better yet, it has fans like me basically saying that what the pros need to do is listen to me.
That’s not going to work.
What the current CME Group Tour Championship is doing sets a tone for pros and fans. We see the top 60 players entering a field that is wide open for a coveted prize. The best performers will rise to the top as their best remains on display before the world.
I’m a fan, not a pro. I am just trying to break 90 consistently. Heck, I’ll settle for the leisure time to be able to truly play consistently. I’ve got nothing of substance to offer Lydia Ko when she shoots a 70 in a round of tournament golf.
And where does that leave us as fans? We’re either watching our TVs or standing on this side of the ropes in admiration of what the players put out there.