It was one of the wildest seasons in LPGA Tour history, so it was only fitting that the final tournament, as well as the year end awards, came down to the final hole.
Cristie Kerr fired a final round 68 to win the CME Group Tour Championship for her 18th LPGA Tour victory and second of 2015. Kerr battled against an incredibly tight leaderboard and entered the 17th tied for the lead, but an eagle on the par 5 put her in command of the tournament. A par putt on 18 gave her the victory.
“I still can’t believe it.” Kerr said at the trophy presentation. “What a day and how it turned out.”
Two players finished one shot back of Kerr. One was Ha Na Jang, who had her opportunities to win the tournament, but was able to take advantage. Still, the rookie from Korea ends the season with eight top 10 finishes, and her first victory seems to be right around the corner.
The other player finishing as a runner up was Gerina Piller, the hero of the Solheim Cup. Piller, who is still seeking her first LPGA victory, fired a final round 67. She finishes with top 10’s in two of her last three tournaments.
With Lydia Ko and Inbee Park not in contention to win, Lexi Thompson had the chance to not only win the tournament, but also the one million dollar CME Globe race. Thompson was tied for the lead after a birdie on the 11th, but she was unable to take advantage of the two par 5s down the stretch. Thompson three putted the 17th hole moments before Kerr eagle. Thompson finished in solo fourth, and she finishes the season with 13 top 10s and two victories.
Entering the final tournament of the year, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko were separated by very few points in the Player Of The Year, Vare Trophy, and Race To The CME Globe standings. The two players were unable to separate themselves from one another throughout the course of the tournament, and found themselves tied entering the final hole of the tournament. Ko had enough of a lead in the CME Globe and Player Of The Year standings, however, that she was able to give away a stroke on the final hole and still secure both trophies. Ko wins the million dollar CME Globe bonus for the second year in a row, and picks up her first Player Of The Year Award. She joins Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, and Annika Sorenstam as players who won the Rookie Of The Year and Player Of The Year Award in back to back seasons. An emotional Ko was joined by her older sister after she found out she secured the CME Globe title, but she was also celebrating for another reason.
“I’m happy that the season’s over and I get to relax.” Ko said after the round. “It’s been a long season. Up and down, mostly ups.”
Despite not taking home to million dollar bonus, it will still be a week to celebrate for Inbee. She was able to narrowly edge out Ko for the Vare Trophy, securing the final point needed to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Inbee will be inducted into the Hall in July of 2017 following the completion of her 10th season on Tour.
Stacy Lewis finished T14, nine shots back of Kerr. She ends the season earning just shy of two million dollars, which breaks a record for the amount of money won on the LPGA Tour by a non-winner. 2015 snaps Lewis’ streak of four straight seasons with an LPGA victory.
Sei Young Kim, who finished in 24th place, clinched the Rookie Of The Year Award before the tournament began.