Lydia Ko captured the biggest prize in women’s golf Sunday, and in the process put a bow on a most excellent season after her win at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Ko, who had won twice previously in 2022, captured the LPGA Tour’s season finale by two shots after a final-round 2-under 70.
In the process, Ko also captured the Rolex Player of the Year honour for the second time in her career and her second-straight Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Ko topped the Race to the CME Globe with the victory, where she earned $2 million (U.S.) – the richest first-place prize in the women’s game.
“This year has been an incredible year,” said Ko, who recently got engaged on top of all of her on-course successes. “I really could never ask for more to win so early in the season and then to have won in Korea and then win the last event of the year. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
“It will be my last win as a single lady… So, I wanted to do this for my family. This has been one of the most consistent and solid years I’ve had.”
Ko won the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in January along with the BMW Ladies Championship exactly a month ago. This is the fourth time Ko has won at least three times in a season. Besides having the lowest Scoring Average this season, she was also first in Putts per Green in Regulation, Sand Saves, Top-10 finishes, and Strokes Gained: Total.
Ko was tied with Leona Maguire through 54 holes after Maguire, who won for the first time on the LPGA Tour earlier this season, fired a tournament-low 9-under 63 on Saturday. Ko bogeyed her opening hole Sunday but bounced back with birdies on No’s 3 and 8. She bogeyed the par-5 14th, but so did Maguire – who just could not get anything going Sunday, unlike during her third round.
Ko birdied No’s 16 and 17 before two-putting for par on the 72nd hole.
She ended up topping Maguire by two and winning by three over Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, whose Sunday 67 was tied for the low round of the day in some blustery and rainy conditions at the Tiburon Golf Course in Naples, Fla.
“I really wanted to play the best golf I can and there were so many big names that were chasing Leona and I, so I knew it would be a tough battle,” said Ko. “Especially with how tough the conditions were as well, but I just tried to focus on my game.”
This was Ko’s 19th win on the LPGA Tour – including three times at the CP Women’s Open, which was named the Tour’s ‘Tournament of the Year’ at the LPGA Tour’s partner meetings earlier in the week – and she is now just two points shy of earning her way into the LPGA Tour’s Hall of Fame at just 25 years old.
Fellow 25-year-old, Golf Town Athlete Brooke Henderson, had a wonderful conclusion to her 2022 campaign – she made a birdie on the final hole of 2022 to shoot an even-par 72 Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Brooke finished tied for 7th – her 10th top-10 result of the season.
Overall, Brooke had one of the finest seasons in her LPGA Tour career with two victories – including a return to the winner’s circle at a major championship – plus she was top five in Scoring Average, the Player of the Year race, the money list, and in Strokes Gained: Total.
Brooke came into the week firmly in the mix to win the Player of the Year award, and if she had won the season finale, she would have done just that.
Unfortunately, she was also battling an upper-back injury that forced her to withdraw from the LPGA Tour’s penultimate event of the season. There were questions about whether she was going to be able to tee it up at all this week, but she said she leaned into her typical Canadian background to grind it out.
“I feel like maybe the hockey mentality (helped). Just trying to be tough,” said Henderson on Saturday after a 7-under 65 that featured three birdies and two eagles. “It’s the final event of the year and I just really wanted to finish this year on a strong note.”
Brooke said she is looking forward to taking the next two weeks off from golf after a busy season before resting through the holiday season.
“2022 was really good to me,” said Brooke. “It was nice to bounce back from my year last year. It wasn’t my best year, so I really wanted to come out strong, which I did. I had a bunch of top-10s early in the season, and then to get those two wins in the middle section felt really nice.”
“It’s nice to finish the year with a top 10, so that feels good. I didn’t have my best day today, but really grinded it out there and to get the top 10 is really exciting.”
The LPGA Tour is now off until January 19th when the 2023 season kicks off with the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions where both Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson will be ready to keep their momentum going from this year!