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Monday, November 16, 2015

Preparing for the LPGA Finale

The Limerick Summary is delayed because the PGA Tour event doesn't finish until Monday morning, and we have two different tours playing their final events of the season this week. So today I'll set up the LPGA event, tomorrow will be the Limerick Summary, and then I'll look at the European Tour event Wednesday.

Of course, Inbee Park won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational this past weekend, which she needed in order to have a realistic chance to win some of the year-end awards.

Inbee Park with latest trophy

The LPGA event is the CME Group Tour Championship, and this is the week when those awards are finalized. These awards are important because some of them give the winners points toward membership in the LPGA Hall of Fame while others are just raise a player's stature in the game. And Inbee's win seriously enhanced her chances, especially since Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis didn't play in Mexico.

Let's take a quick look at what's at stake this week:
  • Inbee's win wasn't so critical for the CME Race to the Globe, the LPGA's equivalent of the FedExCup, worth a cool million. Inbee remains in 2nd place while Lydia remains in 1st and Stacy in 3rd. Since the Top3 can each take it all by winning the Tour Championship, all three still "control their own destiny." Of course, if none of them win, the points could become important since any of the Top9 have a mathematical chance of winning.
  • The Money Title is now a two-woman race. Lydia has $2,758,417, Inbee has $2,570,096, and the winner's check is $500.000.
  • The Scoring Title -- known officially as the Vare Trophy -- has become extremely tight, with Inbee taking the lead with her win. How tight? Inbee's scoring average for the year is 69.433 strokes (for 90 rounds) while Lydia's is 69.449 (for 89 rounds). That's less than 2/100s of a stroke difference! This one counts a point toward the LPGA HoF.
  • And then the big one, the Rolex Player of the Year, is still being led by Lydia. She has 276 points against Inbee's 273. This one also counts a point toward the LPGA HoF.
  • I should also mention the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, which has already been locked up by Sei Young Kim. She's in the 4th spot on the Race to the Globe points list and could certainly figure into the picture this week.
In addition, should Inbee win the Tour Championship this week or either the Rolex POY or Vare Trophy, she will have accrued 27 points thus far in her career -- enough to qualify for the LPGA HoF. All she'll have to do is play one more season to meet the 10-year career criteria.

Of course, other players would like to get the points as well. I believe Lydia currently has 11 points (9 regular events and one major) while Stacy has 17 points (9 regular events, 2 majors, 2 POYs and 2 Vares). There are 3 points up for grabs this week, plus Stacy would like a win to get off the schnide of 9 Top3s this season.

Given that Inbee has said she has trouble with the Bermuda greens at Tiburon, where the final event is held, and that Lydia and Stacy could be a bit rusty after taking a week off, and that there are a number of other players in good form right now... this should be a very interesting finale to the 2015 LGPA season.

GC's coverage starts Thursday, November 19 at 4pm ET. ABC will cover the final round on Sunday at 2pm ET.

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