CME Group Tour Championship will see biggest payday in LPGA history

Dave Broker, Jin Young Ko
Caddie Dave Broker and Jin Young Ko on the first hole tee box in the third round of the CP Women’s Open. Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight women’s professional sports tour’s season-ending tournament, the biggest headline going in is: ”It’s All About the Benjamins”.

First, on November 3, World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty won the WTA Finals, and with it, earned $4.42 million, the largest first-prize ever in all of tennis — both men’s and women’s.

And now, two weeks later, the biggest talk as the LPGA Tour’s sixth CME Group Tour Championship gets set to start this Thursday at Greg Norman’s Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., is the $1.5 million winner’s check — the largest first-place prize in women’s golf history — which will go to the winner on Sunday in this 72-hole, no-cut event that includes the top 60 players in the season-long Race to the CME Globe standings.

READ: Caddie spending an entire season with same player a rarity on LPGA Tour

So not only will Sunday’s winner make history, as the previous largest women’s golf first-place check was $1 million (2018 U.S. Open; LPGA Playoffs at the ADT, 2006-2008), but the winning caddie, assuming he/she gets the customary 10 percent, will take home the biggest caddie check in women’s golf history ($150,000).

That $1.5 million is more than the winner’s check in 33 of the PGA Tour’s 47 events during the 2018-2019 season.

Since it began in 2014, the CME Tour Championship consisted of the top 72 players in the season-long Race to the CME Globe standings, with anywhere from the top 5-12 players going into the CME Tour Championship eligible to win the season-ending $1 million bonus, separate from the CME Tour Championship purse, which last year was $2.5 million, with $500,000 going to the tournament winner.

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Conversely, this year, the Race to the CME Globe points will be scrapped going into the CME Tour Championship. Meaning, while the field has decreased by 12 players, all 60 players will have a chance at the historic $1.5 million first-place prize, as the previous years’ $1 million bonus has simply been added to the purse, which has doubled to $5 million.

It seems like the only loser in this new format, it can be argued, is World No. 1 and current Race to the CME Globe points leader, Jin Young Ko, who despite racking up 4,148 points (1,241 more than second place, Brooke Henderson), has the same chance of winning as No. 60 on the Race to the CME Globe standings, Stacy Lewis (658 points), who has not played since the Cambia Portland Classic back in August because of a bad back that forced her to pull out of the Solheim Cup.

Nevertheless, the end result of this new format change is not only a huge payday, but a format that will be simpler to follow for the golfers and viewing audience, as no longer will there be a tournament within a tournament.

Instead, the winner after 72 holes on Sunday will be winner of the:

  1. CME Tour Championship
  2. Race to the CME Globe
  3. And most importantly, $1.5 million richer (along with, hopefully, $150,000 to the winning caddie).

Because remember, this week, truly: “It’s All About the Benjamins!”

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