Lydia Ko finished the season on top, winning the Rolex Player of the Year and CME Championship.
From the outset of the CME Championship, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko set the standard, knocking out eight spectacular birdies on opening day, including four back-to-back stunners (plus one more on hole 11) on the back nine. The Olympic silver medalist continued to demonstrate the impressive consistency that’s defined her year with a bogey-free Friday, and four-birdie runs on Saturday and Sunday.
Despite being the player to beat, two bogeys on the front nine on Day 3 put her chances in jeopardy, with a hot-on-her-heels Leona Maguire surpassing Ko to take the lead from her. Testament to Lydia Ko’s belief, she hit a crucial birdie on the 17th hole to secure a tie for the lead on “moving day” and the chances to fight for another opportunity at the Rolex Player of the Year, with the 2015 title having been engraved on her sleeve.
“There were so many big names chasing Leona and me,” said Ko during the trophy presentation ceremony. “I tried to focus on my game.”
Despite starting out with a bogey at the beginning of the day—same as the first day—Ko’s determination was never in question and she made up for earlier missed opportunities with two successive birdies on the 16th and 17th holes—to add to her other two from before—to overtake the lead outright and finish -2 for the day and 17 under overall.
The win also cinches Lydia Ko as the current Rolex Player of the Year, solidifying the statement on her sleeve. The CME Championship also comes with the biggest paycheck in the LPGA, at $2M, and three hall-of-fame points.
“I felt more calmer than I thought I would be,” explained Ko afterward. The win caps off a fantastic year for the 18-time winner, having earned two titles this year, including last month’s BMW Ladies Championship. There’s no question that Lydia Ko has been the player of the year with eight Top five finishes even more inspiring considering they occurred in her last 10 starts.
“This year has been an incredible year,” she said after being presented with the CME trophy. “I couldn’t have asked for more.”
The win didn’t come easy, though, with the 25-year-old having changed coaches just last month. Ko said goodbye to coach Sean Foley, with Ted Oh taking over prior to her arriving in Naples, FL for the LPGA finale tournament.
The CME champ is also getting married later this year.
“It will be my last win as a single lady,” Ko said proudly after her emotional win.
Next up for the world No. 3 golfer are her wedding preparations. Talk about a tremendous year.