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Ko wins CME Group Tour Championship in fourth playoff hole
November 23, 2014

Lydia Ko tapped in for par on the fourth sudden-death playoff hole to net the biggest payday in women’s golf history, winning both the Race to the CME Globe and the CME Group Tour Championship for a $1.5 million windfall. By forcing a playoff at 10-under, Ko guaranteed herself the $1 million and inaugural Race to the CME Globe but went back to the 18th with her third Tour win of the year on her mind. She got it, making four consecutive pars to outlast Carlota Ciganda and Julieta Granada.

“I thought I would be playing 72 holes but I played around 76,” Ko said. “I’m excited the season is over, but it’s been great.”

Ko took the Race to the CME Globe by 1,850 points over Stacy Lewis, while Michelle Wie finished third.

“When I saw that $1 million in the box, I was like, Wow, I wonder who the winner of that will be? It’s amazing,” Ko admitted. “I’ve never seen that much cash in one place before. “

The $1.5 million dollar payday wrapped up a dream rookie season for Ko who picked up three victories, 12 additional top-10 finishes and was named the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year.

“This year has been awesome. Three wins, Rookie of the Year, it’s a huge honor for me to be here in this position. I’m looking forward to what’s coming up next year,” Ko said.

Lewis gets a sweep of her own: Stacy Lewis picked up a sweep of her own after Sunday’s final round of the CME Group Tour Championship as she wrapped up an impressive 2014 season in style sweeping the LPGA’s three most prestigious honors -- Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy and LPGA Official Money List title. Lewis becomes the first American to take home all three awards since Betsy King in 1993 and the first player since Yani Tseng in 2011.

“That’s what I came here for,” Lewis said. “I went into the week wanting to win these three awards. The $1 million and all would’ve been nice, but I would take these three over $1 million any day.”

“I have some goals,” Lewis continued. “I never write them down, but I kind of have them in the back of my head that I had won Player of the Year, I had won Vare Trophy, but I wanted to win the Money List at some point. I thought it would be pretty cool if I could do all three together,” Lewis said. “So it’s amazing. And the coolest part to me is I get to be on the trophies with some pretty amazing women, you know, and be a part of history.”

Granada comes up just shy: Julieta Granada, the third-round leader, went out in 38 and it appeared her chance at the CME Group Tour Championship may be over. Instead, she clawed her way right back into it, making three consecutive birdies on Nos. 13 through 15 to force her way into the playoff with a back-nine 33 to finish at 10-under-par.

She ultimately bowed out on the second playoff hole when her lag putt from just behind the green came up about six feet short. She narrowly missed the putt to miss her shot at continuing on in the playoff with Granada and Ko. She was understandably upset after but was overall thrilled with a terrific week.

“Yeah, it’s tough. I think the more time goes by you realize I had a pretty good chance. I played well coming in and hit some great shots on 18. That’s a really long hole for me. Just that first putt was a little short, and that second putt I honestly thought I had it. The greens are getting a little slower, so I think the grain just grabbed it a little bit,” Granada said. “Overall I’m happy with this week. I had such good support throughout the week. It was a fun week.”

And as Ko and Ciganda took off back down the fairway to play for the championship she coveted, she walks away with the best year of her career since 2006, finishing 18th on the money list with $762,803, including 8 top-10 finishes. She was admittedly disappointed with how it finished but praised her competitors and the sponsors as the playoff continued on.

“Carlota’s got the game. She’s been hitting it really straight the last two days that I got to play with her. That 3 wood goes miles. And Lydia, she’s so steady. You just can’t count her out end,” Granada said. “Thanks so much to CME for being such a great sponsor.”

Ciganda misses opportunity to win: Two putts more than any other Sunday will eat and gnaw at Carlota Ciganda until she gets her first LPGA Tour win. That win will likely be coming soon considering the outstanding golf she’s playing, but in the meantime, two putts will be hard to forget. First, there was the four-foot birdie on No. 17 that narrowly lipped out that would have put her up one shot heading into the 18th.

Then perhaps the most painful missed opportunity on the third playoff hole when she hit a towering iron on the difficult par-4 to six feet behind the hole, which would have gone down as the shot of the tournament had. But this putt didn’t drop and off they went back to the 18th for the fourth playoff hole.

“I think I just pushed it a little bit. I was right edge and still a little bit more, so...” Ciganda said.

She hit her approach on the fourth playoff hole just a bit too far and a hair left and it caromed into the water left of the green and she made a bogey to finish in second. A win was the goal but she won’t take anything but positives away from a second-place finish against one of the strongest fields of the season on a difficult Greg Norman layout.

“Yeah, I’m very happy because I wasn’t very comfortable before coming here. I saw that I can be up there,” Ciganda said. “I been playing really good, putting much better, so I’m happy with my result. Hopefully I can win next year.

Final race to CME Globe standings: Here is how the top-5 in the Race to the CME Globe peformed during Thursday’s opening round.

CME Ranking
Lydia Ko
Stacy Lewis
Michelle Wie
Inbee Park
So Yeon Ryu

Quote of the day: “Sometimes they’re like, Oh, my God you’re a millionaire and blah, blah, blah.”

-Lydia Ko on what her friends think of all of her success

Eagles for a cause: “Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” was a season-long charity program tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group donated $1,000 to
Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. The amount increased to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship.

Through the 32 tournaments prior to the CME Group Tour Championship, $283,000 had been raised and while no eagles were made on the weekend in Naples the CME Group generously rounded up to $300,000 and a check was presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony.

Click here for full scores & prize money.


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