It's the final event of the 2023 LPGA season where 60 players will play for a $2 million winner's prize.
After 31 official events, two team competitions, 12 countries and 11 states, the LPGA Tour returns to Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida for its season finale, the CME Group Tour Championship, a culmination of the season-long Race to the CME Globe.
The Race to the CME Globe is a season-long points competition in which LPGA Members accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament to enter the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
The player who wins the CME Group Tour Championship will be named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion", don the winner's blue jacket (an addition that started last year) and earn a prize of $2 million. Following The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, the field was set to the top 60 players in the Race to the CME Globe points standings.
Every player will compete in the 72-hole, no-cut competition, with an equal chance at winning the largest in the history of women’s golf. And just before the season finale commenced, it was announced that the winner's prize will double to $4 million in 2024.
Highlighting the field this week are nine of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, including the newly renamed World No. 1, Lilia Vu, who moved into the top spot for the second time this year following her win at The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.
Can Vu cap off a "wild" year?
Vu has had quite the year on the LPGA Tour with four wins, including two Majors, and six top 10 finishes. The American is looking to cap off 2023 with one final victory. It appears that she has a change in mindset to thank for her rapid rise.
"I don't really know how to explain it. I feel like I just try my best, and for some reason I kind of take the same mindset I had in college where I really focused on playing a match between myself and the golf course. Like this is the par. I'm going to try to beat the hole every hole. If I don't, I just move on and try again the next hole."
When asked to sum up her year in one word, the 26-year-old said: "Wild!"
"I don't know why that word keeps coming in. I think I thought about it last week because I got a similar question. It's just wild. I don't know. I'm very grateful to be in the position I am in, and I don't know, I have a great team around me and I think that's why I do so well. I think they keep me on my toes and humble me, too. Yeah, keep pushing me to be better in all aspects."
The World No. 1 is not going to be in for an easy ride this week as she'll be going head-to-head with 59 of the best players on the LPGA this season. It's looking like she may pick up Rolex Player of the Year though but that requires another four-time winner Celine Boutier not to grab the winning place.
Boutier also looking for a fifth season victory
Boutier, the World No. 3 is playing in the CME Group Tour Championship for the fifth time and with two top 10 finishes in her last two starts here, she is very comfortable playing here in Naples.
"Sometimes you cannot really explain why some courses are better visually than others. I feel like I feel a little bit more comfortable on this course. I think also the more you play, for me personally, the better it's been.
"I feel like over the years I've gained a little bit of distance and that enabled me to be a little bit more performance, especially on the par-5s and stuff like that, so I feel a little bit more comfortable now than at the very beginning.
"I also feel like around greens I seem to be reading them a little bit better than other places. Also speed has been really good for me so far this week. Also the fact that I've performed well in the past is also helping. You always have good memories."
With fellow 2023 Major winners Ruoning Yin and Allisen Corpuz in the field plus four past champions, as well as rookie Rose Zhang, picking a winner this week is really tough. One thing is for sure, defending Champion Lydia Ko will not be taking home the $2 million prize, after failing to make the top 60 this season. A winner on the LET but not able to recreate the same magic on the LPGA.
We're really looking forward to the next four days of competition, like Vu says, it's going to be wild!
2023 CME Group Tour Championship facts
- This is the tenth playing of the CME Group Tour Championship and the tenth-consecutive year it will be played on the Tiburon Golf Club’s Gold Course
- It is the 32nd and final event of the 2023 Tour season
- Four past champions in the field including Jin Young Ko (2019, 2020), Sei Young Kim (2018), Ariya Jutanugarn (2016) and Charley Hull (2015)
- Twenty-two of the 23 the 2023 LPGA Tour winners are in the field, TOTO Japan Classic winner Mone Inami is the only one not playing
- Six of the 32 LPGA Tour rookies are making their CME Group Tour Championship debuts - Grace Kim, Alexa Pano, Hae Ran Ryu, Chanette Wannasaen and Rose Zhang are the five rookie winners on Tour this season, whilst Yuna Nishimura is the only rookie in the field to not have won
- Linn Grant, Stephanie Kyriacou and Ruoning Yin are all competing in Naples for the first time
- Nine of the top-10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are in the field, Lydia Ko (100) did not finish in the top 60
- The $2 million dollar winner’s cheque is the largest in the history of women’s golf.
Rolex Player of the Year Projections
Only the top two players on the points list, Lilia Vu and Celine Boutier, have a mathematical chance to win Rolex Player of the Year. Vu leads Boutier by 27 points and has the most chances of winning. She can outright win with a seventh-place finish or better. If Vu finishes ninth or worse, she needs Boutier to finish second or worse.
Boutier must win and have Vu finish eighth or worse to win Rolex Player of the Year. If Boutier wins and Vu finishes eighth, both players would be tied with 199 points and each player would receive the award.
View the CME Group Tour Championship leaderboard here. Live coverage of the final event of the LPGA Tour season will be available on Sky Sports Golf - Thursday and Friday 8-10pm, Saturday 7-10pm and Sunday 6-9pm GMT.