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The Race to the CME Globe

The Race to the CME Globe
(Xinhua/Alamy)

There are around 80,000 miles between CME-Globe-point-earnings stops on the 2023 LPGA Tour. Those are proliferation-plus miles, indeed, in the aptly titled “Race to the CME Globe Champion.”

The competition started with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Fla. on January 19 and will culminate exactly 10 months later with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla. where the tournament winner will be acclaimed the “Race to the CME Globe Champion.”

A Global Stage

There are only 185 miles between these tournament sites. Yet, there have been many accomplishments and dejections this season—and there will be more—on courses in the Sunshine State and on those beyond assorted sunsets across the globe.

“It’s amazing to kind of witness that throughout the years that I’ve been on tour,” said Nelly Korda, a familiar threat or holder of the no1 Womens World Golf Rankings position since 2021 at last year’s CME Group Tour Championship.

“We’re getting put on a great stage. … Hopefully, it keeps trending in that way, but we’re all very grateful for these opportunities that we have been given, especially by CME.” 

Twelve countries and eleven U.S. states are included on this season’s travel itinerary on the record-setting $100.4 million LPGA Tour. From Thailand to Singapore, California to New Jersey, People’s Republic of China to Malaysia, France to Scotland, LPGA members compete for CME Globe points. The better the finish, the more points earned. The winner of most official LPGA events earns 500 points; champions of the five majors each receive 650.

The top 60 players (and ties) in the point standings after “THE ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican” qualify the following week for the CME Group Tour Championship, November 16-19.  

Lydia Ko’s 2022 Victory

Last year at this event Lydia Ko’s birdie putt at the par-3 16th at the Tiburon Golf Club provided her with a two-stroke victory over Leona Maguire. 

In addition to securing the most lucrative first-place check ($2 million) in women’s golf history, Ko finished first in LPGA Tour season earnings with $4,364,403. She secured the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average (68.99) and the LPGA Player of the Year Award. 

The CME Globe trophy and the LPGA Player of the Year Award gleamed very well as a pair of awards in the post-tournament celebratory photo session. Ko also crept closer, with 25 points, to the 27 required for inclusion in the LPGA Hall of Fame. After capping her season with her third tournament title, she told reporters: “I really could never ask for more to win so early in the season and then, to have won in Korea and then win the last event of the year. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”

But in the first four months this year, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko didn’t approach such proficiency with ties for sixth, 31st and 34th and a missed cut in the first major, The Chevon Championship.

Steadfast Trait

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, meanwhile, moved to No.1 in the Race to the CME Globe standings in the middle of May after her Cognizant Founders Cup playoff triumph over Minjee Lee (May 14, 2023). Ko showcased her steadfastness—one of her trademarks when she was the Player of the Year with five victories in 2021—with the lowest fourth-round score (5-under-par 67). Her second victory of the year (the first was the HSBC Women’s World Championship) put her at 20 points, as she approaches her life-long quest to be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

Strong challengers

Two other certified threats in the CME Globe Champion chase are Lilia Vu and Nelly Korda. 

Vu followed her Honda LPGA Thailand victory with the Chevon Championship. The former was the first LPGA victory for the former No. 1 amateur in the world and the winningest player in UCLA history with eight individual titles. 

The latter was a coveted major that required a Vu vault into the pond near the 18th green at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas. This continued the splashy tradition of past champions, celebrating this major triumph.

Time Present

So far this season Korda has performed well since surgery last year to repair a blood clot in her left arm. The 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist tied for sixth or better in five of her first six tournaments. She overtook Lydia Ko for the No. 1 position in the Women’s World Golf Rankings on April 24.

Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier, who were No. 4 and No. 5 in the Race to CME Globe standings after the Cognizant Founders Cup, are “Race to the CME Globe Champion” challengers as well. Hall had two early second-place finishes, and Boutier won the LPGA Drive on Championship, as both Solheim Cup veterans aspire to be European forces in the upcoming matchup with the United States. 

This was first published in Essential Golf – you can read the complete magazine here.