West Australian Minjee Lee will tee up tomorrow at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida, knowing she is in with a great chance not only to win the tournament but also to take home the US$1m bonus on offer for the winner of the Race to the CME Globe.
After 31 tournaments, 25 winners, 13 host countries and one international team competition, the 2018 LPGA Tour season wraps up this week with the CME Group Tour Championship, which will be held at the Tiburón Golf Club from 15-18th November.
World No. 1 and the season’s dominant player Ariya Jutanugarn leads the field of 72 elite players, with 12 women vying for the $1 million bonus that goes to the winner of the 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.
Following the Blue Bay LPGA last week, the top 72 LPGA Members, as well as any non-member winners and any alternates, in the Race to the CME Globe points standings were seeded into the championship field.
For Lee and any of the other top five seeds, it’s easy – win the CME Group Tour Championship and take home US$1 million. However, the top 12 in the points race all have a mathematical chance to take the title of Race to the CME Globe Champion and win the coveted bonus check.
Sitting at No. 2 in the Race to the CME Globe, Lee has a plethora of quality finishes behind her in 2018 including 13 top-10 finishes and wins at the LPGA Volvik Championship on the LPGA Tour and the Oates Vic Open on the ALPG Tour, standing her in good stead as she steps onto on the big stage this week.
With a US$1 million bonus prize on the line, Lee will need to use all of her experience if she is going to top the current leader, world number 1 Ariya Jutanagarn. Lee has been in contention on the LPGA Tour seemingly every time she has teed it up in recent months without being able to secure her 2nd LPGA win of the year, one of Lee's three second-place finishes this year came at the inaugural LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in April when she fell to Lydia Ko on the first hole of a playoff,
“All my experience in the last three years, I’m just a little bit more mature and settled in on the Tour so I know myself better and how to handle things,” said the 22-year-old, the No. 5 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. “In San Francisco, I lost in a playoff, but to get myself in that position I was really happy. I’ve had a lot of great experiences this year and been in contention quite a lot but haven’t been able to win multiple times.”
Lee will tee off alongside the defending champion and Race No. 1 seed Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 seed Brooke Henderson in the final group at 10:41 a.m local time.
Lee will be joined in the field by her compatriots Katherine Kirk, Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith and Hannah Green.
Kirk will tee off at 9:35am alongside former NZ Women's Open Champion Mi Hyung Lee and winner of the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville earlier this year Frenchwoman Celine Boutier.
Oh will start at 8:51am alongside American veteran Cristie Kerr and Thai Thipada Suwannapura. Smith will play alongside Americans Jaye Marie Green and Mariah Stackhouse at 9:36am, while Green, in the final event of her LPGA rookie season will tee off at 10:08am with Koreans Mirim Lee and Hee Young Park.
You can watch all of the action live on FoxSports Australia channel 505 from 5:00am Friday morning AEDT, live scoring can be found by clicking here
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