Ko & Park in LPGA season-ending challenge

New Zealand's world No. 1 golfer Lydia Ko (left) and second-ranked Park In Bee of South Korea are set to battle it out for an array of LPGA Tour honours at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship this week in Florida.
New Zealand's world No. 1 golfer Lydia Ko (left) and second-ranked Park In Bee of South Korea are set to battle it out for an array of LPGA Tour honours at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship this week in Florida. PHOTOS: AFP

NAPLES (Florida) • New Zealand's world No. 1 golfer Lydia Ko and second-ranked Park In Bee of South Korea are set to battle it out for an array of LPGA Tour honours at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship this week in Florida.

Ko, back in action after taking a fortnight's break, is in pole position to clinch the Player of the Year award, the money list title and retain her No. 1 ranking.

But Park, a winner of two Major championships this season, is in close pursuit.

"It's so hard when you actually have like one competitor (and) you want to play better than that one person," Park told reporters while preparing for yesterday's opening round at Tiburon Golf Club.

"Not every tournament we have that kind of feeling, but here where we have everything on the line... what Lydia is doing affects many things and what I can achieve.

"I can't make Lydia play bad or good. I can't do anything like that. I've got to do good and then just see what happens, but Lydia has been playing such great golf that it was almost unbeatable. She definitely deserves to be up there."

The 27-year-old occupies second place in both the money list and the Player of the Year points standings but she leads the way in the hunt for the coveted Vare Trophy with a scoring average this season of 69.433, just ahead of Ko (69.449).

"I got a lot of confidence from there, and obviously coming into the last tournament, it's good to have momentum," said Park, referring to her fifth LPGA win of the season at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico last Sunday.

Like Park, Ko has won five times this season, and she would love to land Player of the Year honours by successfully defending her title at Tiburon this week.

"One of my big goals was to play a little bit more consistently," said the 18-year-old.

"Last year it was much better than I would have ever expected, and this year is the same.

"To know that you're the player (of the year) and you've played consistently all year and you've done these points to get here, that would definitely mean a lot.

"But even if it doesn't exactly go the way I would love it to, I think I've just got to be pleased and proud with the way this year has gone."

Twelve months ago, Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship to land 2014 LPGA Rookie of the Year honours.

REUTERS


CME GROUP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2015, with the headline 'Ko & Park in LPGA season-ending challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe