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Korea’s Amy Yang pockets USD2 million with three-shot win at CME Group Tour Championship, American Lilia Vu claims LPGA Tour’s Rolex Player of the Year award
South Korean Amy Yang powered her way to a three-shot victory at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday for her fifth LPGA Tour title, earning her the winner’s purse of USD2 million.
A rookie in 2008, the 34-year-old claimed her first LPGA title in the United States with a tournament scoring record of 27-under-par 261 (68-63-64-66) at Tiburón Golf Club.
Entering the final round in a share of the lead with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, Yang had a slow start with pars on her first two holes before bogeying the par-four 3rd hole. She would go on to make a string of pars before birdies on 7 and 8, making the turn at one-under-par for the day and 22-under-par for the tournament.
Yang was flawless on the back nine. She made birdie on the 10th hole and eagled the par-four 13th when she holed her second shot from 80 yards out, moving to 25-under-par and giving her sole ownership of the lead. Yang birdied her last two holes to seal the deal.
Hataoka and Alison Lee of the United States finished in a tie for second on 24-under-par. Holding a share of the lead through the first three rounds, Hataoka carded a final round 69 that included four birdies and one bogey on the par-3 16th hole, that ultimately took her out of contention.
Amy Yang with the CME Globe trophy.
“She (Nasa Hataoka) is such a great player, and I was feeling really nervous. You know, I had no idea where this was going. All I could do was just stick to my game and trust it,” said Yang, whose last tour victory came in 2019 at the Honda LPGA Thailand which she has won three times.
Yang was joined by several LPGA Tour players on the 18th green as she sunk her final birdie putt. “You know, they mean a lot to me. They're like family out on tour and, you know, I do my best. They're just all sweet friends. I'm so grateful to see them on the 18th, and I'm sure down the road I'll do the same for them, too,” said Yang.
World number one Lilia Vu finished in sole fourth place on 21-under-par, earning the American the 2023 Rolex Player of the Year award ahead of France’s Celine Boutier. Vu won four times on tour this season, including two major championships and last week’s The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.
Vu became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February and won her maiden major title two months later atThe Chevron Championship in its first year at The Club at Carlton Woods. In August, the 26-year-old won the AIG Women’s Open to become the first American to claim two major titles in a single season since Juli Inkster in 1999.
“I think it's been unreal for that to happen. Came in with no expectations and tried to win every tournament that I played in. Just kept my goals really small, and I think that really helped me achieve Player of the Year,” said Vu, who is the first American to claim the Rolex Player of the Year award since Stacy Lewis in 2014.
Lilia Vu with the Rolex Player of the Year trophy.
Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul was solo fifth on 20-under-par, which was the 29th top-10 finish of her short LPGA Tour career. The 20-year-old clinched the 2023 Vare Trophy for recording the season’s lowest scoring average of 69.533, becoming the second player from Thailand to earn the honour following Ariya Jutanugarn in 2018.
“I had no idea I was going to win the Vare Trophy, to be honest. In the middle of the season, I played really bad. I’m just like really happy that I got over it, got past it, overcame it,” said Thitikul, who is the first player to win the Vare Trophy without a victory in the same year.
A two-time LPGA Tour winner in 2022, Thitikul earned a tour-leading 13 top-10 finishes this season including two runner-up performances at The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America and the Maybank Championship.
Results (Top 10 and ties)
261 (-27) Amy Yang (KOR) 68-63-64-66
264 (-24) Alison Lee (USA) 66-64-68-66, Nasa Hataoka (JPN) 63-67-65-69
267 (-21) Lilia Vu (USA) 70-66-66-65
268 (-20) Atthaya Thitikul (THA) 67-66-69-66
269 (-19) Ruoning Yin (CHN) 63-68-69-69, Xiyu Lin (CHN) 67-66-66-70
270 (-18) Nelly Korda (USA) 68-68-66-68, Minjee Lee (AUS) 64-67-69-70
271 (-17) Yu Liu (CHN) 66-71-68-66, Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 71-70-63-67