Cristie Kerr claimed her 18th victory on the LPGA Tour, while Lydia Ko of New Zealand won the Race to the CME Globe for the second straight year by tying for seventh in the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples. Fla.
Kerr sank a 35-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and ran in a 12-footer for eagle on the 17th for the winning margin while closing with a 4-under-par 68 to win by one stroke over Gerina Piller and Ha Na Jang of South Korea.
“They’re all special, so it’s hard to say (where it ranks), but to win the final tournament of the year feels pretty awesome,” said Kerr, who won the Kia Classic earlier this year and has two major titles to her credit.
“I was just trying to take deep breaths and stay in the process. I kind of knew I had to make that eagle putt at 17 because I didn’t want to be tied going to the final hole and I knew Ha Na was going to make birdie.
“And it went in.”
The 18-year-old Ko, No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, did enough to become the youngest player to win the Race to the CME Globe, with its $1-million bonus, and the Player of the Year Award in the same season.
After putting out, Kerr asked: “Who won the $1 million?” Told it was Ko, she turned to her (see picture) and said: “You’re so rich.”
Said Ko: “At the start of the week, I was thinking of which trophy would be the most important, and I thought it would be Player of the Year. Now that I’ve won that, it’s been a fun season and I take a lot of positives from this.”
Piller birdied five of the last six holes to close with a 67 that came up barely short of Kerr, while Jang had three birdies on the back nine in a 69.
Fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson shot a bogey-free 68 to finish three shots back in solo fourth, followed by Karine Icher of France, who had a 69, another stroke behind in fifth, and second-ranked Inbee Park of South Korea, one more shot back in fifth after a 69.
Park, 27, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average with a mark of 69.41 to Ko’s 69.44, giving her the 27 points needed to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame once she completes her 10th season next year.
“The great thing is, we’ve got three winners,” Ko said.
Sydneee Michaels of Temecula and UCLA posted a 65 and finished in the tie for seventh with Ko, plus Minjee Lee of Australia and Amy Yang of South Korea, who both came in at 69.