Hull wins but Ariya grabs LPGA rewards

MIAMI • Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn took LPGA Player of the Year honours and a US$1 million (S$1.42 million) bonus prize on Sunday, while Britain's Charley Hull captured the season-ending Tour Championship with a 72-hole course record.

Ariya, whose first five LPGA titles this year included her first Major at the Women's British Open, tied for fourth but with teenager Lydia Ko only sharing 10th, the result was good enough to claim Player of the Year and the Race to the Globe season points bonus.

"I had my goal to win my first tournament and I did. To win the Player of the Year, it's huge," said the 20-year-old Thai.

Hull, who is the same age, won her first US title and first crown since 2014 by firing a final-round six-under 66 to finish on 19-under 269 - shattering the old Tiburon Golf Club mark of 271 set by American Cristie Kerr last year.

"I was pretty calm," the Englishwoman said. "When I'm on the golf course I try not to think about golf. It makes me think I'm not leading the golf tournament and that's what I did."


Sitting pretty on US$1 million, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand poses with the Rolex Player of the Year trophy, the CME Race for the Globe trophy and a box containing the cash after the LPGA Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Hull, who made only eight birdies last year at the Naples, Florida course, sank 23 this year, including an all-but clincher on the penultimate hole.

Level with South Korea's Ryu So Yeon after a day-long duel, Hull birdied the par-five 17th hole while Ryu (67) made bogey and both closed with pars to end the last drama on a day of intense trophy fights.

For Ariya (69), she took the Race to the Globe with 6,800 points to 5,050 for Ko (72) despite the Kiwi's second-round 62.

"I thought she was going to win everything, that's what I thought," Ariya said of Ko, who hugged all the rivals who left her empty-handed.

That included Chun In Gee of South Korea, who closed with three birdies to nudge ahead of her to win the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average with 69.583 to 69.596.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2016, with the headline 'Hull wins but Ariya grabs LPGA rewards'. Print Edition | Subscribe