Blunder costs top golfer more than one trophy


Lexi Thompson missed a two foot putt that cost her the CME Group Tour Championship win, Player of the Year, and the No. 1 world ranking in women’s golf. The CME Group Tour Championship was at Tiberon Resort’s Golf Club Naples, Fla.

Liza Eubanks, Staff Writer

At the CME Group Tour Championship, the season-ending Ladies Professional Golf Association event held in Naples, Fla., players were in a close competition for several awards. Up for grabs was the LPGA Player of the Year honors, the Vare Trophy award for lowest season scoring average, the $1 million bonus for the season-long Race to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Globe, and the No. 1 spot in the Rolex World Rankings, which determines the best players in the world based on a two-year, rolling average.

My caddie said, ‘Don’t look at the leaderboard on 18’.”

— Ariya Juntanugarn

At the start of the final day, nine players were tied for first and second place, at 10 and nine under par, respectively. These players included Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Ariya Juntanugarn, and Sung Hyun Park. Going into the final hole of the 72-hole event at Tiberon Resort’s Golf Course, Thompson needed a two-putt par from 60 feet to win the tournament. Korda was in at -14 and Jutanugarn, who was one group behind Thompson, sat at -13 through 16 holes. Thompson hit a great first putt on the final green, rolling the ball to within two feet of the hole, but after that things went wrong. After marking and cleaning her ball, Thompson went through her normal routine but made a bad stroke and missed the hole to the right, producing gasps from the thousands of spectators gathered around the final green.

This miss allowed Jutanugarn to birdie 17 to tie and then hit a 3-wood and an 8-iron to within 15 feet of the hole on 18. “I didn’t realize that 14-under was leading,” Jutanugarn said. “My caddie said, ‘Don’t look at the leaderboard on 18’ so, of course, the first thing I did was look at the board. But I didn’t really care if I made the putt.” Jutanugarn, who won Player of the Year honors on the LPGA Tour in 2016, rolled in the 15-footer for birdie to finish 15-under par for the week, good enough for a one-shot victory.

But Thompson claimed to be happy, too, focusing on the positives that came out of the week. “I just won $1 million [for the Race to the CME bonus],” Thompson said afterward. “And I won the Vare Trophy [for the lowest stroke average for the season], so it’s hard to be upset or disappointed. It’s been a great year. I’m going to focus on the positives and enjoy the offseason.”

Right after that, Thompson walked out of the tournament’s media center and went straight to the gallery ropes where her fans were lined up waiting for autographs. She signed something for everyone, concluding the 2017 LPGA season.