NAPLES, Fla. — The youngest player in the field at the CME Group Tour Championship – 17-year-old Lydia Ko – netted the largest payday in women’s golf history Sunday, winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe and $500,000 CME Group Tour Championship before she even has her driver’s license.
Ko only needed regulation to win the inaugural Race to the CME Globe, locking up the $1 million with a four-day total of 10-under-par. However, the 2014 Rolex Rookie of the Year, needed four additional trips down the 18th hole with Julieta Granada and Carlota Ciganda in a three-way playoff, making par four straight times to win the tournament. The $1.5 million Ko won Sunday is the largest payout in women’s golf history.
“When I saw that $1 million in the box, I was like, ‘Wow, I wonder who the winner of that will be?’ It’s amazing. I’ve never seen that much cash in one place before. This year has been awesome. Three wins, Rookie of the Year, it’s a huge honor for me to be here in this position,” Ko said. “I’m looking forward to what’s coming up next year.”
Ko. the 2014 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, entered the CME Group Tour Championship third in the standings after the points reset and controlled her own destiny with a win this week. She got that win Sunday, firing a final-round, bogey-free 68 to come from three shots behind to force a playoff.
She then made par four straight times on the 18th hole and watched as Granada first fell out of the playoff with a bogey and later Ciganda when she hit it in the water to the left.
Currently ranked No. 3 in the Rolex World Rankings, Ko won three times in her rookie season and finished in the top-10 12 additional times. She’s never missed a cut in 42 LPGA starts and was one of only three players on Tour in 2014 to record three wins. She now has five career victories, two of which came as an amateur. Ko’s essentially rewrote all the age related LPGA records, becoming the youngest winner in Tour history, youngest Rolex Rookie of the Year ever and now the youngest to $2 million in career earnings.
Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie finished second and third in the Race to the CME Globe, respectively, earning the $150,000 and $100,000 payouts for second and third place.