For better or worse, the race for $1.5 million is wide open at CME

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For better or worse, the race for $1.5 million is wide open at CME

LPGA Tour

For better or worse, the race for $1.5 million is wide open at CME

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No more promotional photos for the top 5 or top 9 players with their hands on the $1 million box of cash this week.

Instead, there will be 60.

Whoever wins Sunday will take home $1.5 million — to be clear, they automatically win the $1 million Race to the CME Globe and $500,000 for finishing first in the tournament. It’s the biggest winning check in women’s golf.

Previously, the winner of the Race to the CME Globe, which went through the entire LPGA Tour season, won $1 million, with the tournament champion winning $500,000.

The tournament purse also has been doubled, from $2.5 million to $5 million.

“I think when sponsors, fans, even players see how much CME Group has stepped up and changed the game really, I think it’s just a great way to set a trend for the future,” said Canadian Brooke Henderson, who has a residence at Miromar Lakes. “I think people are going to pick up on it.”

CME Group Tour Championship: Tee times

The Race led to some head-scratching, mind-numbing statistics for players and media alike to figure out what the chances of the top 5 or the top 9 were going into each tournament day of winning the $1 million.

That’s over, but so is the opportunity those players had competed for all year to get in position for that prize. Starting Thursday, it doesn’t matter where they rank.

“At first I was a little disappointed because I had worked so hard the last few years to be in those top positions to have a chance at winning the big money,” said Brooke Henderson, who has routinely been in that top 5 or top 9. “But at the end of the day, I think it’s great for golf to see the purses increase and to have an opportunity like this is unlike any other event we’ve ever played, or I’ve ever played.”

“To me, I’m not really too bummed about that,” said Nelly Korda, who is No. 5. “To win this tournament you have to play good golf. At the end of the day, whoever wins deserves it.”

“I love it,” said Golf Channel analyst and World Golf Hall of Famer Judy Rankin. “I mean, players have known this all along. It’s not like somebody told them last week, ‘Your rank is not going to count.'”

Former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis comes in after finishing 60th in the Race to the CME Globe.

“If I was one of those 1-2-3 (in the Race), I’d probably be a little more upset,” she said. “I’ve come into this first and now come into it last. Being in last place, you like the format change.

“I think it adds to the drama this week. You have 60 out of 60 (committed). It got everybody’s attention. It made everybody show up this week. It made the world pay attention, really. It’s a purse that we’ve never played for, and it’s a big deal.”

Rankin remembered that her first golf paycheck was $50 in 1962, and her first winner’s check was $1,875 in 1968, so the $1.5 million for the winner and $5 million purse is something else.

The actual tournament prize money comes on the heels of Carlota Ciganda winning $1 million in the season-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge. She won the same amount as PGA Tour counterpart Brooks Koepka did.

“The feeling that as a woman you get of being respected for what you’re doing just because of the financial gains that are now being awarded,” Golf Channel analyst Karen Stupples said. “I think the feeling all the players get when they come here is one of pride, that they have that feeling of worth, that they feel like they’re worth it. I think it’s a very emotional feeling for a lot of the players to know that is exactly what’s going on, that there is a glint of equality then comes to this event and to the Aon Risk Reward Challenge. A lot of the sponsors now on the LPGA are stepping up to that because they see value.”

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