LPGA announces changes to points race, purse for 2019 finale
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — The Race to the CME Globe will be more frantic starting next year, and the winner of the LPGA Tour's season-ending tournament is going to get considerably richer.
Tour and event officials announced Tuesday night that the CME Group Tour Championship's purse in 2019 will double to $5 million, with the winner getting $1.5 million — the largest first-place share in women's golf history.
The biggest winner's check and purse on the LPGA Tour this season were both at the U.S. Women's Open, where Ariya Jutanugarn won $900,000 of the $5 million total purse.
"To think that the best players in the world won't be paying more attention to the CME Group Tour Championship next year would be wrong," LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said.
There's another key change for next season, in that all the points in the season-long Race to the CME Globe will be thrown out before the finale. There are 12 players out of 72 in the field at Tiburon Golf Club this week with a chance to win the Globe, and five of those 12 are assured to hoist the trophy if they win Sunday. The other seven players can win the Globe through various scenarios, many of which are complex.
Next year, it's very simple: The top 60 players in the points race, including ties, will qualify for the finale. Points then get thrown out entirely, and the tournament winner — whether she was ranked No. 1 or No. 60 coming into the event — will win the Globe.
Players are applauding bigger purses. The format change isn't exactly getting unanimous approval.
"I was a little disappointed, just that they were getting rid of the season-long race," said Brooke Henderson of Canada, one of the five women who would clinch the Globe automatically with a win this week. "I think that was a good motivation for a lot of players to win a lot of events. ... But at the same time, it's really exciting to know that we have a ginormous purse in one tournament."
Whan said the credit for the change goes to CME Group chairman and CEO Terry Duffy, who was the one who came up with the idea to double the purse and change the format for the Globe finale.
"I want anybody to be able to win this," Duffy said. "That's what really makes it exciting for the fans."
This year's tournament starts Thursday. Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka and Sung Hyun Park are the five who are assured of winning the Globe if they win the tournament.