20 Nov 2019 | Professional golf |

Four Aussies chase LPGA bonanza

by Martin Blake

Hannah Green_image
Hannah Green is set for the tour championship. Picture: Getty

The biggest single prize in women’s golf goes on the line in Florida this week – and four Australians are in it up to their neck.

The LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Championship is being played at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, and only 60 players will play for $US5 million in prizemoney.

The pool itself is similar to the US Open prizemoney, but because of the limited field, the first prize cheque of $US1.5 million is biggest-ever in women’s golf, which is the catchphrase for the marketers this week.

Australians Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Su Oh and Katherine Kirk have made their way into the field through performances on the tour this year.

The LPGA changed the system for the tour championship at the end of last year, taking the $US1 million bonus that was on the line for the best player across the full season and funnelling it into the overall prize pool.

In what commissioner Mike Whan has called “a game changer”, it allows them to offer the biggest single cheque ever seen at a women’s tournament.

Previously only a limited number of players in the field had the opportunity to win the $1 million bonus, secured last year by Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand.

This year, there is only one winner and that could be any of the 64 who tee it up.

The women’s tour is a marathon; their first event of 2019 was in Florida back in January, and many of the players have just completed a month-long swing through Asia with tournaments in Taiwan, South Korea, China and Japan.

That’s the test ahead for the likes of world No. 5 Lee, who has had another remarkably consistent season with a win and four runner-up finishes. The 23-year-old Lee is due a change of luck and perhaps this is the week for it; she was runner-up in Taiwan and third in Japan at her last two starts, suggesting her form is holding nicely.

The other Australian to watch could be Perth’s Green, winner of two events this year including her first major, sitting just outside the world’s top 20 players. She also played well at her last start in Japan having had a break at home in Perth, logging a top-10 finish.

They could all be chasing Korea’s Jin Young Ko, the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open champion who has had a dominant year. Ko has already won the player of the year and two majors, and she could also win the scoring average trophy depending how she plays this week.

The tournament starts on Friday morning (Australian eastern time). Television coverage is on Fox Sports and Kayo.

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