NAPLES, Florida, November 22nd, 2021 – After a year of stops, starts and long journeys around the world, the 2021 LPGA Tour season ended with a sensational golf game at the CME Group Tour Championship, a true celebration of the best female athletes.
With her win at the CME Group Tour Championship, Jin Young Ko won her second Rolex Player of the Year title after 2019. She is the 14th player in Tour history to win the award at least twice, and the first Korean Republic player to win the award more than once. It was the culmination of a season in which Ko won five LPGA Tour titles, including the $ 1.5 million win in the season finale and eight other top 10 finishes. Nelly Korda, who took four wins and six other top 10 placings and the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, came second.
“I’m so proud of myself and I would say Player of the Year, it’s cool,” said Ko, who fought with Korda for the Tour’s greatest honor all year long. “I would say Player of the Year is the best and it’s really hard to be Player of the Year, especially this year with Nelly.”
Victory at the CME Group Tour Championship also earned her the Race to the CME Globe Champion title after winning the title again in 2020. She is the first player to win the season race more than once.
Patty Tavatanakit received several awards at the Rolex LPGA Awards on Thursday evening, including Louise Sugg’s Rolex Rookie of the Year and the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award. Tavatanakit earned LPGA Tour status after finishing second in the Race for the Card of the Symetra Tour 2019, where she won three times and was awarded Gaelle Truet Rookie of the Year. The Thai native became the Rolex First Time Winner at The Chevron Championship and was the first Tour rookie to win the Major title since July Inkster 1984. In addition to her win, Tavatanakit also took nine top-10 finishes, including a tie for fifth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and a tie for seventh at the AIG Women’s Open.
“I knew my potential was there. I just had to figure out a few things to put it together and finally finalize it, which I did when I won our first major at ANA Inspiration (now The Chevron Championship), ”said Tavatanakit. “My whole attitude changed because I had proven to myself that I belong here and that I have what it takes to win on the LPGA Tour, not only that, but also a big championship.”
Madelene Sagstrom received the Heather Farr Perseverance Award, honoring an LPGA player who has shown determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals as a player through her hard work, dedication and love of golf. In February, Sagstrom shared her #DriveOn story about overcoming childhood sexual abuse and realizing that “survival is an ongoing process”.
“I have received many awards for both my athletic skills and my achievements on the golf course. This is the first award I’ve received for being myself, ”said Sagstrom. “For a long time I have measured my self-esteem by my results on the golf course. I’ve worked long and hard to see and honor the other sides of me. That’s why this award means a lot to me. It’s been a lot of hard work and I’m so happy to stand in front of you as the person I am today.
“My goal is to be the best version of myself every morning when I wake up, both as a golfer and as a person. Choosing to talk about my sexual abuse history means just that to me. I hope that by sharing my darkness, I can bring some light and hope into someone else’s life. As we all know, life is not always easy. But together as people we can be there for one another. Thank you all for showing me that my story is important and for showing others that they are not alone. “
The Heather Farr Perseverance Award was established in 1994 and honors the life of Farr, an LPGA Tour player who died on November 20, 1993 after a four and a half year battle with breast cancer. Previous winners of this award include Heather Farr, Lorie Kane, Nancy Scranton, Brandi Burton, Kris Tschetter, Kim Williams, Beth Daniel, Se Ri Pak, Leta Lindley, Sophie Gustafson, Lisa Ferrero, Stephanie Meadow, Ariya Jutanugarn, Jessica Korda and Suzann Pettersen.
Lydia Ko received the 2021 Founders Award, an award previously known as the William and Mousie Powell Award and now named in honor of the original 13 founders of the LPGA Tour. The award is given to an LPGA member who, in the opinion of their fellow players, best embodies the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA through their behavior and actions. The award has been awarded since 1986, with a list of previous winners including Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Juli Inkster, Lorena Ochoa, Chella Choi, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb, So Yeon Ryu, and Brooke Henderson.
“I am very grateful that this award was chosen by my colleagues at the LPGA,” said Ko. “In my eight years on the tour and playing against the best women golfers, I have been fortunate to have met so many friends, mentors and people that I will know for the rest of my life. Even though we all compete against each other, one of the greatest things about our tour is that we really support each other. We are here to grow as professionals and as people. This enables the tour to continue to inspire the future generation of young women and to convey to them the inspiring vision and spirit of the founders. The LPGA is much more than an organization, it is a family. “
After the game ended on Sunday, Ko also won the Vare Trophy for the lowest point average of the season. Ko averaged 69,329 hits per round in 2021, with Lexi Thompson finishing second with 69,629.
LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan, who celebrated her first Rolex LPGA Awards after joining her position earlier this year, elected LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member and longtime LPGA and PGA Tour announcer Judy Rankin to the recipient of the Commissioner’s Award. Established in 1991, the award honors an individual or organization who has made a unique contribution to the LPGA and its members, promoted the cause of women’s golf, and possesses character and standards of the highest order. Past recipients include KPMG, Jamie Farr, Rolex, the JM Smucker Company, and Golf Channel.
“I saw Tiger (Woods) from the beginning until not that long ago. I saw Nancy Lopez up close and then on TV. I’ve seen Annika Sorenstam’s entire career. I’ve seen Karrie Webb’s entire career and could go on and on and on. But I think I had the best front row seat ever, ”said Rankin, who will step down from the full-time announcement in 2022. “The LPGA was my neighborhood and I love that neighborhood. I was very fortunate to have a second chance after spending so much time out here making friends with young players. It was really extraordinary for me. “
Deb Vangellow, LPGA Master Professional and Director of Golf Instruction at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas, joined an elite group of her colleagues as the recipient of the Ellen Griffin Rolex Award 2021. The award was launched in 1989 and honors the late Ellen Griffin, the most famous golf instructor in US history. The award recognizes an individual, male or female, who has made an important contribution to the teaching of golf and, through teaching, has demonstrated Griffin’s spirit, love and commitment to the student, their skills and the game of golf.
“Many thanks to Ellen Griffin. Her incredible teaching spirit while never forgetting that she is always teaching people and having fun overcome the frustrations of golf has been very helpful to me from my young teacher to this day, “said Vangellow, a former National President of LPGA Professionals.
The Rolex LPGA Awards also included the Rolex First Time Winner Pajaree Anannarukarn (ISPS Handa World Invitational), Matilda Castren (LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship), Wei-Ling Hsu (Pure Silk Championship), Ryann O’Toole (Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open) , Yuka Saso (US Women’s Open) and Tavatanakit (The Chevron Championship).
Earlier this week, the LPGA Tour celebrated the winners of two season competitions. Hannah Green won the Aon Risk Reward Challenge for the $ 1 million prize. The competition, which measured the performance of LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR golfers on a series of holes in multiple tournaments, tested players’ ability to analyze risk, use data-driven insights to identify opportunities and perform in to maximize the crucial moments. Green joined PGA TOUR winner Matthew Wolff and won the Aon title with both players receiving equal prize money.
In addition, Jin Young Ko won the LEADERS Top 10 competition for the second time and won $ 100,000. She reached 12 top 10 finishes from 18 starts that season and entered the CME Group Tour Championship, including four wins and two more top 3 results.