The LPGA Tour picks its Player of the Year strictly on points. If those were style points, Nelly Korda would be hard to beat.
Korda’s three LPGA wins this year include her first major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, which made the 23-year-old American No. 1 in the world. With a gold medal from the Tokyo Olympics, she put together the most memorable year in women’s golf.
But the best year? Jin Young Ko wants a word.
After a six-week hiatus after a disappointing Olympics where Ko worked with her old trainer in South Korea and found a putter she liked, she has won three of her last five starts on the LPGA Tour and was runner-up in the ShopRite LPGA Classics.
Her victory in the BMW Ladies Championship not only brought her back to No. 1 in the world, Ko also took the lead in the Race to the CME Globe, both of which previously belonged to Korda.
And she now has a 15-point lead over Korda in two remaining tournaments. The win is worth 30 points – 12 points are awarded for the second – so the race is far from over.
Korda has a slight head start on the Vare Trophy for the lowest point average – 69.07 to 69.18 – although neither player is eligible for the award for not having played enough rounds.
Ko became a footnote in history at the BMW Ladies Championship when he took a South Korean player’s 200th career win. It extended her late-season upswing, which began with her first win of the year at the Volunteers of America Classic in July.
There was a reason for the slow start. Her grandmother fell ill and Ko was unable to return to South Korea and her preparations for the majors due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
She said she even questioned what she was doing with her life.
“I thought to myself: ‘What’s the use of all this?’ I was very skeptical about why I played golf when I couldn’t be there for my grandmother, ”she said.
She managed to come home to the HSBC Women’s World Cup in Singapore in early May to see her grandmother one last time before she died.
“I attach great importance to luck. So golf is a means of getting there. There is no end for me, ”said Ko. “So at the time I really had doubts about why I played golf. But I think time heals everything. And after Singapore I came to Korea, was able to meet my grandmother and it just gave me a lot of comfort. “
Ko and Korda play the last two events – the Pelican Women’s Championship in Tampa Bay, Florida, November 11-14, followed by the CME Group Tour Championship on the Gulf Coast in Naples.
Turbulence while traveling
Brian Gay had to wait more than seven years for the chance to defend another title on the PGA Tour. It turned out the hard part was just getting back to Bermuda.
Gay and his wife Kimberly were bumped off their American Airlines flight out of Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday after saying agents told them the plane was too heavy.
The next flight was Tuesday.
“Japan to Bermuda would have been easier than traveling via Charlotte,” said Gay, referring to the charter flight from the Zozo Championship, which he did not participate in.
Gay wasn’t alone. He said Vaughn Taylor was supposed to be on the Bermuda flight too and was unable to board, despite Taylor’s luggage going there.
The Butterfield Bermuda Championship kicks off Thursday in Port Royal, offering full FedEx Cup points – and a place in the Masters for the winner – for the second year in a row as the World Golf Championship in Shanghai resumes due to COVID-19 restrictions was canceled.
Gay, who will turn 50 in December, won his fifth career PGA Tour title and first since 2013 in a playoff against Wyndham Clark last year.
He said her flight from Orlando, Florida chased but pulled into the gate next to where the flight to Bermuda departed.
“We went to the gate and there were a dozen people there, one of them my caddy,” said Gay. “My caddy spoke to an agent and said, ‘We’re stuck. The plane is too heavy. ‘ They said we need enough gas to get there and to Philadelphia in case they can’t land and they can’t be weighted. “
Gay’s wife said that six more passengers were eventually allowed on the plane. They were too far back in line and were left behind. So much for the glamor of the PGA Tour.
“It’s great,” said Gay, laughing.
The QBE Shootout in Florida marked a big year for Harris English as he teamed up with Matt Kuchar to win the December show.
Harris and Kuchar are returning on Nov. 9-12. December in Naples, Florida, as part of a 24-player field.
The field consists of four members of the Ryder Cup in Whistling Straits, including US captain Steve Stricker. The others are English, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who will play the shootout for the first time since 2013.
LPGA Tour’s Lexi Thompson returns for the fifth year in a row, while the new additions include Max Homa, Sam Burns, Hudson Swafford and KH Lee.
Streak on the line
Starting with Tony Finau winning the Northern Trust to start the FedEx Cup playoffs, the PGA Tour had eight straight winners who were in the top 50 in the world.
That streak is in danger this week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, mainly because the field only includes three players from the top 50 – Patrick Reed in 24th, Matt Fitzpatrick in 26th and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in 43rd.
According to the PGA Tour, five straight top 50 winners at the start of a new season are the longest run since 2005, starting with eight consecutive top 50 winners. That ended with Geoff Ogilvy (# 83) winning the Chrysler Classic from Tucson for his first Tour title.
Patty Tavatanakit has won the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year on the LPGA Tour with two tournaments remaining.
One of Tavatanakit’s big years was winning the first major at ANA Inspiration. She had eight other top 10 placements, two of them with majors.
The 22-year-old Thai previously won the Rolex Annika Award for best cumulative results in the majors. Along with her ANA Inspiration win, she finished fifth at the Women’s PGA and seventh at the Women’s British Open.
Cameron Tringale has made over $ 15 million in profit from 314 starts without winning the PGA Tour. The Zozo Championship was his first runner-up in six years. … A pair of Grand Slam winners will partner in the PNC championship in December. Women’s PGA winner Nelly Korda plays with her father Petr, who won the 1998 Australian Open tennis. Henrik Stenson makes his debut alongside his eleven-year-old son Karl. … Hideki Matsuyama is the fourth Masters champion in the last 10 years to win in his home country in the same year. The others were Charl Schwartzel (Joburg Open), Adam Scott (Australian PGA) and Sergio Garcia (Andalucia Valderrama Masters).
Statistics of the week
Bernhard Langer has as many victories (42) on the European Tour as the PGA Tour Champions.
“I think I’ve never been a favorite for a tournament.” – Matt Fitzpatrick, the Butterfield Bermuda Championship betting favorite. He is one of only three players from the top 50 in the world at Port Royal.