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CME Group Tour Championship Preview, Pairings, and Much More

I want to start off today by congratulating Gabby Lopez for winning the Blue Bay LPGA. Gabby played the final round in a threesome with the number 1 and number 2 players in the world (Ariya Jutanugarn and Sung Hyun Park), and came away victorious. It was a see-saw battle until Gabby birdied the 11th, 13th, 14th, and 16th holes, to take a four shot advantage. Ariya made it close by birdying the final two holes, but it was too little too late. For Gabby it was her first win on the LPGA tour. It was also the first win by a Mexican player since Lorena Ochoa.

Image result for 2019 cme tour championship

This week the LPGA returns to the United States for the playing of the CME Group Tour Championship. Many of you may remember last year's exciting finish when Ariya Jutanugarn finished one stroke ahead of both Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda. Lexi Thompson hung on to win the 1 million dollar bonus.

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Ariya Jutanugarn will be trying to defend her CME Group Championship title.

Image result for lexi thompson wins 1 million bonus
Lexi Thompson took home the 1 million dollar bonus plus the Vare Trophy last year.

This will be tournament #32 of 32 on this year's LPGA schedule.

Here are the key details:
Course:  Tiburon Golf Club
Location:  Naples, Florida
Defending Champion:  Ariya Jutanugarn
Winning Score:  68-71-67-67 = 273 (-15)

Final Field:  72 players
Par:  36/36 = 72
Yardage:  6,556
Purse:  $2,500,000

My strength of field rating is 66% (down from 69%) last year. Thirty-seven of the top 50 players from the LPGA Priority List, and 14 of the top 25 players from the Rolex Rankings will be teeing it up. The field will be led by the top three players in the world: Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park, and So Yeon Ryu. Top ranked players skipping the event this week include: Inbee Park, Shanshan Feng, I.K. Kim, Amy Yang, Michelle Wie (injury), and Jennifer Song.

Unlike previous years when all the big awards came down to this tournament, most of the races have already been decided:
  • Ariya Jutanugarn has already wrapped up the Rolex Player of the Year, and the Hall of Fame point that goes along with it.
  • Ariya Jutanugarn has already wrapped up the Vare Trophy, and the Hall of Fame point that goes along with it. (I am calling this one over, as all she has to do this week is stay within 15 strokes of runner-up Jin Young Ko).
  • Ariya Jutanugarn has already wrapped up the money list title by a wide margin.
  • Jin Young Ko has won the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award.
What is still up for grabs and to be decided this week include:
  • Who will win the 1 million dollar bonus for the Race to the CME Globe.
  • Who will finish the year as the #1 ranked player in the world. It will take a victory by Sung Hyun Park to have a chance to unseat Ariya Jutanugarn from the top of the Rolex Rankings. 
Here are the pairings for round 1:

Here are the television times:
GC    Thurs. Nov 16,  4:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. ET  (tape delay)
GC    Fri.      Nov 17,  4:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. ET  (tape delay)
GC    Sat.     Nov 18,  4:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. ET  (tape delay)
ABC  Sun.    Nov 19,  1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. ET

Players most likely to win: (Top players in the field)
1- Ariya Jutanugarn - She has to be the favorite to win every time she tees it up.
2- Sung Hyun Park - Can still finish the year on top with a victory here.
3- So Yeon Ryu - When you overlook her is when she is the most dangerous.

Players to watch out for: (I'm feeling it this week)
1- Brooke Henderson - A win here would win her the 1 million dollar bonus.
2- Minjee Lee - Ditto.
3- Nasa Hataoka - Ditto.
4- Sei Young Kim - Can win the 1 million if the top five fail.

Longshot picks: (Not likely, but not impossible)
1- Angel Yin - Can turn around what has been a very disappointing season.
2- Georgia Hall - Didn't play the Asian swing and will be well rested.
3- Bronte Law - A real longshot, but a real possibility.

Other Tidbits:
Gabby Lopez became the ninth player to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour in 2018. There were only three first time winners last year.

Rolex Rankings Movers of the Week:
The only significant move this week in the top 100 was made by Gabby Lopez. Gabby moved up forty-five spots from #136 to #91.

Race to the CME Globe:   (1 million dollars)
The points have been reset and here are the top 5 players that hold their fate in their own hands.
  • Ariya Jutanugarn = 5000 points
  • Minjee Lee = 4,750 
  • Brooke Henderson = 4,500 
  • Nasa Hataoka = 4,250 
  • Sung Hyun Park = 4,000 
The above five players will win the 1 million dollar bonus if they win the tournament.

Seven other players have an outside chance of winning the 1 million dollar bonus.
  • Sei Young Kim = 3,600 points
  • Jin Young Ko = 3,200
  • So Yeon Ryu = 2,800
  • Moriya Jutanugarn = 2,400
  • Lydia Ko = 2,100
  • Marina Alex = 1,800
  • Carlotta Ciganda = 1,600
Who's Hot:
Both Danielle Kang's and Sei Young Kim's 4th place finish this weekend was their 7th top five finish of the year. Only Ariya Jutanugarn and Minjee Lee have more.

Who's Not:
M.J. Hur finished her 2018 season without registering a single top twenty finish in 19 starts.

This Week's Trivia Question:
Only one player has ever won this CME Group Tour Championship and the 1 million dollar bonus in the same year. Can you name her.

For the answer to this week's trivia question press here.

Here are the final results:

1 Lexi Thompson -18
2 Nelly Korda -14
3 Brittany Lincicome -13
3 So Yeon Ryu -13
5 Ariya Jutanugarn -12
5 Lydia Ko -12
5 Marina Alex -12
5 Carlota Ciganda -12
9 Nasa Hataoka -10
10 Amy Olson -9
10 Brooke Henderson -9
10 Sei Young Kim -9
13 Danielle Kang -7
13 Jessica Korda -7
15 Brittany Altomare -6
15 Sung Hyun Park -6
15 Charley Hull -6
15 Gaby Lopez -6
19 Azahara Munoz -5
19 Lizette Salas -5
21 Tiffany Joh -4
22 Maria Torres -3
22 Jane Park -3
22 Yu Liu -3
22 Mi Hyang Lee -3

Be sure to check back here daily for any LPGA news or updates.  They will be posted here at the bottom of this blog. Tournament results will be posted here at the end of each round. Links to all Women's Tour scoreboards can be found on the right side of this page (or on pull down menu on mobile website).


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