The PGA Tour might have been dark this week but there was no lack of excitement in the world of professional golf. Both the European and LPGA Tours wrapped up their 2014 campaigns with their respective Tour Championships and there were plenty of big name golfers taking home some hardware and big pay days.
Starting in Dubai and the European Tour, where despite Rory Mcllroy having already wrapped up the season long Race To Dubai title, there was still plenty on the line at the DP World Tour Championship.
Defending champion Henrik Stenson showed once again that in the biggest events of the year, he is one of the toughest golfers to beat, especially at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai where he won his second consecutive Tour Championship crown. Last year, Stenson won the Tour Championship and went on to also take the Race To Dubai title.
“It was such a great place for me to win here last year, so to come back and successfully defend is very pleasing,” Stenson said. “I’ll be back and try to make it three wins in a row next year.”
While he wasn’t in contention for the season long title this year, he still collected just over $1 million as well as his first win of the season. In addition, the win moved him up to number two in the world rankings behind Mcllroy.
Stenson put together and impressive week that saw him shoot his first three rounds in the 60’s before finishing up with a Sunday 70 that saw him take the lead and hold off some of the top golfers in the world in the process.
Stenson found himself chasing Rafa Cabrera-Bello who had a two shot lead with seven holes to play. Cabrera-Bello then imploded, carding a bogey at 12 and double bogeys at both 16 and 17. Stenson remained steady, taking advantage of Cabrera-Bello’s mistakes to regain the lead after a tap in birdie at 17. He added another birdie at 18 to seal the victory over Mcllroy, Justin Rose, and Victor Dubuisson who all finished two shots back.
For Mcllroy, it’s the second Race To Dubai crown in three years for the Palm Beach Gardens resident.
“It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve played the best golf throughout the season of any of the guys for the second time in three years, it’s really nice,” said McIlroy. “I’m happy with the success that I’ve had, and I feel like there’s been a lot that I’ve learned this year, as well, and that’s a great thing going into the future.”
Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis Sweep LPGA Awards
Meanwhile, back in Naples, Florida, the LPGA was wrapping up one of its most successful seasons in the Tour’s history at the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.
Headed into the week, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, and Michelle Wie all controlled their own destiny for the inaugural Race To the CME Globe title and the $1 million prize that goes along with it. It was the tournament within the tournament throughout the week.
With the exception of Park, who never really factored in much, all three of the other golfers had a shot at the title throughout the week and weekend. It was Ko though that pulled away from the pack in the end, not only claiming the Race To the CME Globe title but sweeping the event and taking home the Tour Championship title as well.
“It’s been an awesome week, and a week that I’ll never forget,” Ko said. “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.”
Ko most likely got her answer on the range or practice green after she got into a three-way playoff, clinching the season long title and the $1 million. She still had plenty of work to do though as she had to fight off Carlota Ciganda and Julieta Granada in order to win the Tour Championship and the additional $500,000 that came with that.
Luckily for Ko, she didn’t have to do much as Ciganda and Granada made mistakes that made it a little bit easier for the 17 year old.
Granada was the first to exit the playoff when she three-putted from just off the 18th green. Ko and Ciganda would play the 18th hole three more times, when finally on the fourth playoff hole Ciganda hit her approach shot into a hazard, thus locking up the win for Ko.
Not only did the 17 year old Ko become the youngest millionaire in LPGA history, she also cashed the largest prize in the Tour’s history as well as earning Rookie of the Year honors.
While Ko was earning her victory in a playoff, Lewis was watching on knowing that she was no longer able to win the Race To the CME Globe. However, all was not lost for the Palm Beach Gardens resident.
Lewis swept all the major awards, winning the money title, the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and the Player of the Year award. Lewis became the first American to win all three awards since Betsy King did it in 1993.
“That’s what I came here for,” Lewis said. “I went into the week wanting to win these three awards. The $1 million and all would’ve been nice, but I would take these three over $1 million any day.”
— #RaceToCMEGlobe (@LPGA) November 23, 2014
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